The ongoing 2009 Honduran political crisis is a constitutional crisis triggered by President Manuel Zelaya's and his supporters' decision to follow through with a referendum rejected by Congress and ruled illegal by the nation's two highest courts. Zelaya was arrested one hour before polls were due to open for the referendum, by soldiers acting on the orders of the Supreme Court of Honduras.
The Supreme Court's ruling was supported by the nation's Congress, the nation's Attorney General, and the country's human rights ombudsman, each of whom accused Zelaya of demagoguery and of violating the nation's laws by urging the nation's laws be altered dramatically on his own behalf.
The armed forces of Honduras arrested President Manuel Zelaya, on June 28, 2009, at his home after he allegedly violated rulings of the Supreme Court of Honduras. Zelaya was held in an airbase outside Tegucigalpa before being flown to Costa Rica. During the action, communications and electricity were interrupted for about six hours. Later that day, the Honduran Supreme Court made public that it had ordered the removal of the president.
Roberto Micheletti, the head of Congress (and a member of the same party as Zelaya), who is in line to fill any vacancy in the presidency, was sworn in as President by the National Congress. The event was greeted with applause in Congress, which had denounced Zelaya's repeated violations of the constitution and the law and disregard of orders and judgments of the institutions.
The international reaction to the military's forced removal of Zelaya has been universally negative. Many governments and international media have described the events as a coup d'état.
There is contention over whether or not the events constitute a coup d’état; the newly established Honduran government rejects this characterization, while most other nations which have made declarations have used the word.
Article 239 of Honduran Constitution, which forbids any former chief executive from being re-elected President, states that any citizen (including the president) who proposes reforming this law, and any others who support such a person directly or indirectly, are to immediately "cease carrying out" any public office. The Constitution, however, establishes no process for impeaching or removing a president. Furthermore Article 42, Section 5 of the Constitution states that citizenship is lost for "inciting, promoting or supporting the continuation or the reelection of the President of the Republic." According to the same article, the decision to revoke the citizenship rests in the government, following a court sentence.
The military claims to have been acting under the instruction of the Supreme Court of Justice, and their actions were ratified afterwards by both the court and the Liberal-majority National Congress. Zelaya is a member of the Liberal party. The National Congress named and ratified Roberto Micheletti, the next person in line for the presidency, within hours. The Constitution establishes that in the absence of the President of the Republic, the Vice President takes his place. However, the Vice President Elvin Santos (elected in Zelaya's ticket) resigned in November 2008 to run for the presidency. Zelaya replaced him with a "Vice President Commissioner" that is barred from taking the position of President of the Republic if needed. In the absence of a Vice President, it is the President of National Congress that takes charge of the Executive until the end of the President's term (January 27, 2010).
A document sent to Congress purported to be a resignation from President Manuel Zelaya, which he denied. The succession, however, is based on Congress having removed him from office, not simply on his own alleged resignation.