UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday unanimously condemned the military coup in Honduras and demanded President Manuel Zelaya's immediate return to power, a decision the ousted Honduran leader called "historic."
The world body adopted a resolution by acclamation, calling on all 192 U.N. member states not to recognize any government in Honduras other than Zelaya's.
Zelaya, who was forced into exile in Costa Rica after soldiers stormed his palace early Sunday, told reporters after the vote that he will return home on Thursday with the president of the U.N. General Assembly, the head of the Organization of American States and the presidents of Argentina and Ecuador.
On the day of his arrest, Zelaya had defied the country's Supreme Court by calling a referendum on constitutional change that opponents worried would lead to a Venezuela-style socialist state. Under the constitution, he is allowed one four-year term.
"I am not going to convene a constitutional assembly, and if I was offered the possibility of remaining in power, I would not do it," Zelaya said when queried about changing the constitution. "I am going to fulfill my four years. I am going to fight to have the four years respected because it's part of our law."
When his term ends on Jan. 27, he said, he will return to his previous life as a rancher.
Zelaya, who has received wide international support, said he wasn't afraid to return to Honduras despite a threat from the country's new president, Roberto Micheletti, to arrest him on charges of treason.
Micheletti insists that Zelaya was legally removed by the courts and Congress for violating Honduras' constitution — allegedly to extend his rule.
"I am going to return the same way as I've always returned, as a citizen and as the president," Zelaya said. "I have always said that anyone who was afraid should not become a politician."
He said his supporters and enemies will be there and the military will have to drop its opposition.
"When I come, the people are going to say ... commander in chief we are at your orders — and the military will have to rectify. There is no other possibility," Zelaya said.
He conceded, however, that the only "guarantee" against his arrest is that the new government sees "what they have provoked" — paralysis in the country and the withdrawal of ambassadors from Latin America and Europe as well as representatives of international lending institutions.
"There is no recognition by anyone. They are the only ones that recognize themselves," Zelaya said. "They have been summarily rejected."
"Now these people will have to change and respect," he said.
Unlike Security Council resolutions, General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, but they do reflect the views of the international community.
The United States has said it sees no acceptable solution to Zelaya's ouster other than returning him to power. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly told reporters that the U.S. was still reviewing whether to cut off aid to the Central American nation.