TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, June 28 (UPI) -- Honduran lawmakers appointed a provisional president Sunday following the arrest and deportation of President Manuel Zelaya.
Roberto Micheletti, the head of the Honduran Congress, was installed as the country's new leader hours after soldiers detained Zelaya, placed him on a plane and flew him to Costa Rica, the newspaper El Heraldo reported on its Web site.
Military troops arrested Zelaya before a proposed referendum on presidential term limits. Zelaya wanted to seek a second term next year. By law, the Honduran leader, elected in 2005, is limited to one term in office.
Human rights activists Sunday condemned the arrest of Zelaya.
The apparent coup prompted criticism by Human Rights Watch, which called Zelaya's ousting a "breach of democracy in Honduras" and called for the Organization of American States to act quickly to push for the re-establishment of democracy in Honduras.
"The OAS has a key role to play now. It must rapidly find a multilateral solution to this breach of democracy in Honduras," said Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director for the international rights group. "To allow this coup to stand would be a huge step back from the progress that the region has made toward democracy in recent decades."
Zelaya told a Spanish newspaper last week he suspected a military coup was coming. The prediction came amid controversy over his firing of the head of the Honduran armed forces.
U.S. President Barack Obama said in a statement released by the White House he was "deeply concerned" about Zelaya's "detention and expulsion."
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton issued a statement saying the action taken against Zelaya "violates the precepts of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and thus should be condemned by all."
"We call on all parties in Honduras to respect the constitutional order and the rule of law, to reaffirm their democratic vocation, and to commit themselves to resolve political disputes peacefully and through dialogue," Clinton said. "Honduras must embrace the very principles of democracy we reaffirmed at the OAS meeting it hosted less than one month ago."