- - Sunday, March 27, 2011


President threatens striking teachers

TEGUCIGALPA | Honduran President Porfirio Lobo on Sunday threatened to fire teachers if they continue a three-week-old strike that has aggravated divisions caused by a 2009 coup.

Teachers who fail to show up in classrooms Monday will be suspended without pay, according to the president’s decree, which was read on radio and television stations. If teachers don’t appear by April 4, they will be fired.

Mr. Lobo said he has the power to dissolve the teachers unions for backing the strike.

The protesters oppose a proposed law that would give parents oversight of schools and they say the government owes six months of back pay to 6,000 teachers. They are also demanding the return of leftist former President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in a 2009 coup backed by the nation’s congress and courts.

Mr. Zelaya’s term ended in January 2010, but many Zelaya backers argue that Mr. Lobo’s election was illegitimate because it occurred under an interim government installed by the coup.

A judge last week dropped arrest warrants against Mr. Zelaya so that he can return without fear of arrest, but the former leader, an ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, said he fears he will be killed if he comes back.

The unions immediately rejected Mr. Lobo’s ultimatum.


Ouattara rejects African Union envoy

ABIDJAN | The internationally recognized president of Ivory Coast rejected an African Union representative appointed to resolve the country’s political crisis Saturday, saying he was too closely associated with incumbent leader Laurent Gbagbo, who refuses to leave power.

Alassane Ouattara said that AU High Representative Jose Brito - a former foreign minister in Cape Verde - was not acceptable because he is not a former head of state and because of his personal and political ties to Mr. Gbagbo.

“Considering his personal relations and his political acquaintances, known to all in Ivory Coast, with the outgoing president Laurent Gbagbo … the President of the Republic of Ivory Coast rejects Mr. Jose Brito,” the Saturday statement read.

The move leaves the future of any negotiated settlement in doubt as Ivory Coast slides toward open civil war, with daily battles in the streets of the capital, and youth being enrolled en masse into the army.

The African Union reconfirmed its endorsement of Mr. Ouattara as legitimate president earlier this month, but didn’t name its envoy, charged with implementing the resolution, until Saturday. The original resolution stipulated that the representative would have 14 days, a delay that expired last week, to complete his work.


Leftist rising in poll for president

LIMA | A new poll indicates that a left-leaning former army officer took the lead among four other candidates in a tight race for president.

RPP radio says Ollanta Humala was favored by 21.2 percent of those polled across the country from March 21 to 24. That is up from 15.7 a week before. The election is April 10, and a runoff is likely.

Two other leading candidates are close behind him.

Congresswoman Keiko Fujimori is at 19.9 percent and former President Alejandro Toledo at 18.6 percent. The margin of error is 2.2 percentage points.

Mr. Humala was once close to Venezuela President Hugo Chavez but has distanced himself from the anti-American autocrat in recent years.

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