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31/10/2009 | Honduran rivals clinch deal to end crisis

Reuters Staff

Honduras is on the verge of ending a four-month political crisis after rival camps cut a deal that could return ousted President Manuel Zelaya to power and earn international support for a November 29 election.

 

Buckling under pressure from U.S. diplomats, negotiators for Zelaya, toppled in a June 28 coup, and the de facto leader Roberto Micheletti who replaced him, agreed to put an end to Central America's worst political turmoil in two decades.

The deal, a diplomatic victory for U.S. President Barack Obama, leaves it up to the Honduran Congress to decide whether Zelaya can be restored to serve the last few months of his term -- the question that caused earlier talks to stumble.

A Congress vote is expected in the next few days, after the Supreme Court gives a non-binding opinion on the matter.

"We've taken a first step," Zelaya said on Friday as negotiators put final signatures to the agreement, which will end months of isolation for the poor coffee-production nation.

The breakthrough late on Thursday came after a high-level U.S. delegation flew to Tegucigalpa for a last-ditch effort to end a crisis that created a foreign policy headache for Obama as he seeks better relations with the region.

"Both sides in regard to the issue of restitution, have committed this decision to Congress," U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Tom Shannon said.

"Both have indicated that they will abide by it, and I believe them," he told reporters. "This is a political issue that's going to be resolved politically."

Zelaya, a leftist logging magnate, was rousted at dawn by soldiers and flown to exile on a Supreme Court order, after he irked many in Honduras by cozying up to socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and allegedly seeking support to allow presidential re-election, something he denies.

Zelaya called the accord a "triumph" for democracy and said he did not expect any new setbacks. "My reinstatement is imminent, I'm optimistic," he told Reuters late on Thursday.

A WIN FOR WASHINGTON

In Islamabad, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who sent the U.S. delegation this week, praised the deal, calling it "a big step forward" for democracy in the Americas.

"Diplomatically, the U.S. came out as the biggest winner of the agreement," noted Eurasia analyst Heather Berkman.

The United States, the European Union and Latin American leaders had all insisted Zelaya be allowed to finish his term and threatened not to recognize the winner of the November election unless democracy was first restored.

Under U.S. pressure, Micheletti finally softened and said Zelaya could return if Congress agrees. The deal requires both sides to recognize the result of the upcoming election and would transfer control of the army to the top electoral court.

"I have authorized my negotiating team to sign a deal that marks the beginning of the end of the country's political situation," Micheletti said on Thursday night.

Tensions flared when Zelaya snuck back into Honduras under cover last month and took refuge in the Brazilian embassy. The de facto leadership surrounded the building with troops, saying Zelaya would be arrested if he stepped outside, and resorted to bully tactics such as blaring music at the embassy overnight.

Shannon praised the two camps for softening their positions and said he hoped Zelaya would soon be allowed to move about freely. "I would like to highlight that these decisions weren't easy for either one of them to make," he said.

Thursday's accord calls for the formation of a national unity government, a committee to verify that the November 29 elections is fair and transparent and a truth commission to investigate the events of the last few months.

It asks foreign governments to reverse punitive measures like suspending aid and canceling the travel visas of prominent figures involved in the coup and the de facto government.

Yahoo News (Estados Unidos)

 


Otras Notas Relacionadas... ( Records 1 to 10 of 476 )
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13/10/2013 The US Govt's Dangerous Dance with Honduras
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