EU ambassadors leave Honduras

Four days after Manuel Zelaya was ousted from the Honduran presidency, all EU ambassadors have left the country, say the Spanish and Swedish foreign ministers.

Four days after Manuel Zelaya was ousted from the Honduran presidency, all EU ambassadors have left the country, say the Spanish and Swedish foreign ministers.

"I have just spoken to my European colleagues and I can tell you that at this moment, all the European embassies in [the Honduran capital of] Tegucigalpa have decided to withdraw their ambassadors," Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos said late Wednesday .

All ambassadors have been withdrawn, although the charges d'affaires remain, so "all the European representation in Tegucigalpa will be at a lower level," he told Spanish national radio.

"I think that it is a clear sign of the position of Europe, of the international community; and the provisional authorities [in Honduras] must reflect on it," he said.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt confirmed that announcement in a Thursday posting on his blog. Bildt, whose country currently holds the EU presidency, wrote there is still uncertainty about events in Honduras. 

The EU is debating how best to push for "a quick return to full constitutional rule," he said.

Widespread condemnation

The United Nations, the Organization for American States, Canada and the United States have condemned the military ouster of Zelaya on Sunday. Governments around the world have lobbied for his reinstatement.

France, Spain, Italy, Chile and Colombia joined other nations Wednesday in recalling their ambassadors. The Pentagon suspended joint U.S.-Honduran military operations, and the World Bank said it was freezing loans.

The three Latin American countries that border Honduras — Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala — have suspended cross-border trade.

Honduran soldiers stormed Zelaya's residence on Sunday, and exiled him to Costa Rica. The army opposed Zelaya's efforts to hold a referendum on constitutional reform.

The Supreme Court, the national congress and the military all deemed his planned ballot illegal.

Deadline looms

After the ouster, congress installed Roberto Micheletti as interim president. Micheletti has repeatedly insisted that the military's actions did not constitute a coup.

But the vast majority of the international community still considers Zelaya the rightful leader.

Micheletti said Wednesday that it would take a foreign invasion to return Zelaya to power. Both sides of the dispute mobilized supporters in the streets Wednesday, with a pro-Zelaya march in the capital and pro-Micheletti demonstrations in other cities. No violence was reported.

The Organization of American States gave Micheletti until Saturday to step aside before Honduras is suspended from the group, an ultimatum Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza said was meant "to show clearly that military coups will not be accepted. We thought we were in an era when military coups were no longer possible in this hemisphere."

Zelaya delayed plans to return Thursday to let that deadline play out.

Micheletti rejected that deadline, saying: "We can't negotiate anything."

With files from The Associated Press