Nearshore Americas

Zelaya Set to Return to Power in Honduras

The government of Roberto Micheletti, which had refused to let Mr. Zelaya return, signed an agreement with Mr. Zelaya’s negotiators late Thursday that would pave the way for the Honduran Congress to restore the ousted president and allow him to serve out the remaining three months of his term.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton confirmed on Friday that Mr. Zelaya and Mr. Micheletti had approved what she called “an historic agreement.”
“I cannot think of another example of a country in Latin America that, having suffered a rupture of its democratic and constitutional order, overcame such a crisis through negotiation and dialogue,” Mrs. Clinton said Friday in Islamabad, where she has been meeting with Pakistani officials.
The accord came after a team of senior American diplomats flew from Washington to the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, on Wednesday to press for an agreement. On Thursday, the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, Thomas A. Shannon Jr., warned that time was running out for an agreement.
Mr. Micheletti’s government had argued that a presidential election scheduled for Nov. 29 would put an end to the crisis. But the United States, the Organization of American States and the United Nations suggested they would not recognize the results of the elections without a pre-existing agreement.
“We were very clearly on the side of the restoration of the constitutional order, and that includes the elections,” Mrs. Clinton said in Islamabad.
Mr. Micheletti appeared to have been persuaded that the warnings were serious.
“The accord allows a vote in Congress on Zelaya’s possible restitution with the prior approval of the Supreme Court,” Mr. Micheletti said in televised comments late Thursday. “This is a significant concession on the part of our government.”
“We are satisfied,” Mr. Zelaya said, according to Reuters. “We are optimistic that my reinstatement is imminent.”
Negotiators for both men were expected to meet Friday to work out the final details of the accord.
Mr. Zelaya was ousted in a military coup on June 28 and flown to Costa Rica.
Some Honduran political and business leaders have argued that the takeover was a legal response to Mr. Zelaya’s attempts to rewrite the Constitution and seek re-election. But they were also concerned by his deepening alliance with Venezuela’s leftist president, Hugo Chávez.
Mr. Zelaya has denied any plan to seek re-election, which is forbidden under the Honduran Constitution.
He sneaked back into the country on Sept. 21 and has been living at the Brazilian Embassy since then.
It was unclear when Mr. Zelaya would be able to leave the embassy, which has had Honduran soldiers posted outside. The de facto government had said it would arrest him if he came out.
According to Mr. Micheletti, the accord reached late Thursday would establish a unity government and a verification commission to ensure that its conditions are carried out. It would also create a truth commission to investigate the events of the past few months.
The agreement also reportedly asks the international community to recognize the results of the elections and to lift any sanctions that were imposed after the coup.
The political crisis has created turmoil inside Honduras, where regular marches by Mr. Zelaya’s supporters and curfews have paralyzed the capital. The suspension of international aid has stalled badly needed projects in one of the region’s poorest countries.
Latin American governments had pressed the Obama administration to take a forceful approach to ending the political impasse, but Washington had let the Organization of American States take the lead and endorsed negotiations that were brokered by the Costa Rican president, Óscar Arias. But those talks stalled in July.
New negotiations began earlier this month but broke down two weeks ago. With the Honduran elections approaching, the United States chose to step up pressure and dispatched Mr. Shannon, along with Dan Restrepo, the senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council.

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Kirk Laughlin

Kirk Laughlin is an award-winning editor and subject expert in information technology and offshore BPO/ contact center strategies.

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