Ex-Armed Forces Chief Leaves for Houston
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras (AP) _ The former armed forces chief left Sunday for Houston, Texas, where he said he planned to undergo medical tests, a day after the joint chiefs of staff dismissed him from office.
Gen. Walter Lopez Reyes had announced Thursday he would resign his post, but hours later he said he had changed his mind after receiving support from the joint chiefs of staff and newly installed President Jose Azcona Hoyo.
However, the joint chiefs of staff held an emergency meeting Saturday and accepted his resignation.
Lopez Reyes said at a news conference at Tegucigalpa’s Toncontin International Airport Sunday that he resigned voluntarily and intended to return to Honduras to serve as an adviser to the armed forces.
″I am mentally tired,″ he said. ″Because of that, I will return in two or three weeks after receiving medical attention.″
He refused to give details about the reasons for his abrupt departure from office. His job has temporarily been filled by Col. Efraim Gonzalez Munoz, chief of staff of the armed forces.
″I have principles ... and I am not demoralized.″ Lopez Reyes said. ″As an officer, I am prepared to endure adversities.″
On Friday, when Lopez Reyes announced that he had changed his mind and planned to remain in the post, he said he would make unspecified changes in the armed forces.
Some political analysts suggested that possible changes led to the action by the chiefs of staff to dismiss him.
They said there appeared to be an internal struggle for control within the military.
Among the issues dividing the Honduran military commanders are the channeling of U.S. aid to Honduras-based Nicaraguan rebels battling the left- wing Sandinista government in Nicaragua and joint U.S.-Honduran military exercises.
Azcona Hoyo was inaugurated last Monday in the first peaceful transfer of power between elected civilian governments in 55 years.
Honduras returned to civilian rule in 1982 under President Roberto Suazo Cordova, ending nearly two decades of virtually uninterrupted military rule.
But the armed forces are still considered to be the country’s most powerful political force.