Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega met with an Organization of American States delegation and told them it would be a dangerous precedent for them to interfere in a country's internal affairs.
Noriega also blamed the United States and its history of intervention in Panama for the country's political crisis."Today it's Panama, tomorrow it could be any other country," the Defense Forces chief told journalists Wednesday after meeting the OAS delegates.
The OAS mission was sent in response to the Noriega-controlled government's voiding of the May 7 presidential vote and the beating of the top three opposition candidates by pro-Noriega thugs. International observers say the opposition won the balloting by a 3-1 margin.
Opposition leaders also met with the OAS delegation on Wednesday and said they want their election victory recognized and Noriega retired.
About 300 marchers accompanied opposition presidential candidate Guillermo Endara and his running mates Ricardo Arias Calderon and Guillermo Ford to the OAS delegation's hotel.
The demonstration, in defiance of a government ban, was broken up peacefully by about 25 riot police wielding bullhorns. Arias Calderon said two opposition workers were arrested.
Maj. Edgardo Lopez, a Noriega spokesman, said that when the issue of retiring Noriega was raised, staff officers expressed loyalty to Noriega and told the OAS delegates the matter was solely up to the Defense Forces.
When asked directly what he planned to do, Noriega thought a second and said, "That's the million-dollar question."