TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) — Honduras' leftist president hurled insults Friday at congressional leaders who are considering whether to oust him from power in a standoff over his push to revamp the constitution.
President Manuel Zelaya is promoting a Sunday referendum on constitutional changes that has plunged the country into crisis by setting the president at odds with the military, the courts and the legislature that have branded the vote illegal.
Many shops and gasoline stations were closed Friday in the capital, Tegucigalpa, after the city's leading business chamber advised its members to stay shut for fear of disturbances. Some schools closed and supermarkets were filled with panic buyers.
The president led thousands of supporters to the country's main airport, where they seized referendum ballots to keep them from being destroyed at court order.
Then he returned to the presidential palace and lashed out at Congress early Friday for plans to investigate his mental stability and possibly declare him unfit to govern. Lawmakers are also investigating whether Zelaya undermined the rule of law by refusing to abide by a Supreme Court order reinstating the military chief he fired.
He referred to Congressional President Roberto Micheletti — a member of his own Liberal Party — as "a pathetic, second-class congressman who got that job because of me, because I gave you space within my political current."
Zelaya, who counts Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Cuba's Castro brothers as friends, says the current constitution favors the elite in a country where 70 percent of the population is poor. His backers warn an attempted coup d'etat is under way.
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