UNITED NATIONS - The president of the U.N. General Assembly urged the 192-member world body on Monday to denounce the perpetrators of the military coup that ousted the president of Honduras.
Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann made the appeal as Honduras' newly installed president vowed to resist pressure to reinstate President Manuel Zelaya, who was forced into exile in Costa Rica after soldiers stormed his palace early Sunday morning.
D'Escoto said he called a special session of the assembly to consider ways "to ensure the peaceful restoration of the legitimate government of president Zelaya in the hours and days ahead."
He said he sent a letter to Zelaya inviting him to come to New York and report directly to members of the General Assembly on the situation in his country.
It is exceedingly rare for the General Assembly to hold a special session on a military coup in a member state. But D'Escoto, a leftist Nicaraguan priest and former foreign minister, has used the year-long post to address political issues more often the preserve of the U.N. Security Council. His presidency ends in September.
It was not clear whether the special session would produce just speeches or a resolution. There were reports Monday afternoon that Honduras was planning to circulate a draft resolution.
Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, but they do reflect the views of the world body.
D'Escoto called Zelaya's ouster a "criminal military coup" and an "outrageous attack on Honduran democracy."
"Now it is appropriate and crucial that the entire world, the 192 members of the United Nations General Assembly, add its voice to underscore the universal rejection of this crime," he said. "Let us denounce the perpetrators with such unanimity that no military-backed regime in Honduras will be able to withstand the criticism and rejection of the world."
Roberto Micheletti, appointed president by congress, said Monday he would not bow to pressure from the Americas and many other parts of the world to reinstate the president. He insisted that Zelaya was legally removed by the courts and Congress for violating Honduras' constitution - allegedly to extend his rule.
Zelaya had called a non-binding referendum on Sunday in defiance of the courts and Congress. The Honduran constitution limits presidents to a single 4-year term.
D'Escoto told the General Assembly that "the call for a constitutional amendment to extend presidential term limits is nothing illegitimate."
"Over the past fifteen years several Latin American countries, including Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Venezuela have held plebiscites on such proposals and new legislation has often passed without incident," he said.
Zelaya's ouster was Central America's first coup in at least 16 years, a blow that reminded many of the military dictatorships the region has tried to bury in its past.
"As a Nicaraguan, I am ashamed that this coup has taken place in Central America, during my presidency," D'Escoto said.
"This is a throwback to another era that we had hoped was now a distant nightmare. Latin America and the Caribbean have the ignominious record of being the region with the most number of military coups in the world. This is a record that has no place in the 21st century," he said.
Honduras' U.N. Ambassador Jorge Reina Idiaquez told the General Assembly he was representing Zelaya, "the legitimate president of Honduras," at this "tragic moment ... but we are certain it will be a transitory one and that our democratic order will emerge strengthened."
He expressed hope that the General Assembly "will universally condem the coup d'etat in Honduras, that the president be restored to his functions which he legitimately carries out, that the human rights of all be upheld, and that no other government be recognized which would have been born through this coup."