TEGUCIGALPA – A large number of foreign tourists are leaving Honduras due to worries that the upcoming referendum in Honduras may add new elements of uncertainty to the country’s political situation, local newspaper El Heraldo reported Saturday.
Tensions are rising in Honduras, where a referendum scheduled for Sunday on changing the country’s constitution has put President Manuel Zelaya at odds with the military, the courts and the legislature.
Many tourists ended their tours in Honduras and flooded into the airport for flights that could take them home since Friday. But sudden downpours on Saturday afternoon blocked the way of some, most of whom are from North America.
In Sunday’s vote, Hondurans will be asked whether they would back an official referendum in November, to be held alongside the scheduled presidential election, to change the constitution to allow a president to seek reelection.
Zelaya, in power since 2006, said he would not run for a second term. His current term expires in January next year.
But oppositions accused Zelaya of violating the country’s laws by issuing a decree to hold the referendum. They said they would ask the Congress to declare him unfit to rule.
The Supreme Court and the attorney general have announced that Sunday’s vote is illegal.
On the military side, Zelaya announced Wednesday that he had fired the country’s top military officer, Gen. Romeo Vasquez, for not backing him, but the supreme court on Thursday ordered the general reinstated.
Zelaya said in a television interview on Friday he would order the army to remain in barracks during the voting period. He told reporters that he was confident Sunday’s vote would go calmly.