Progress in Honduras talks
Backers of the coup against Manuel Zelaya made progress Wednesday in negotiations with representatives of the ousted Honduran president, but the key point, Zelaya’s reinstatement, remained unresolved.
Victor Meza, negotiating on Zelaya’s behalf, said delegations representing the two factions had agreed on wording regarding that sticking point. But later, the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti, who replaced Zelaya, said no agreement had been reached.
“The dialogue on this point has been cordial and both sides have made important advances,” said a statement from the delegation representing Micheletti, according to news reports. “However, at this moment, there is no final agreement on this point.”
Meza told The Times that negotiations would resume today.
With the backing of the international community, Zelaya has insisted that he be returned to power to finish his term, ending in January. Micheletti has refused.
Despite months of bitter, polarizing debate, a new urgency emerged with the approach of national elections scheduled for Nov. 29. Most governments in the region have warned Micheletti that the results would not be recognized if the crisis were not resolved.
“We have advanced a lot,” Gen. Romeo Vasquez, the army commander who carried out the coup more than three months ago, told Honduran radio. “We are almost at the end of the crisis.”
Negotiations, which began last week under the auspices of the Organization of American States, focused on a draft agreement brokered in July by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. It was rejected by Micheletti at the time, but members of the two delegations said this week that they had agreed on all but the final point.
The agreed points included formation of a “national unity” government and establishment of a truth commission. The two sides agreed to reject an amnesty for all involved, and to scrap Zelaya’s quest to hold a constituent assembly aimed at revising the constitution.
Zelaya, a timber tycoon whose shift to the left alienated Honduras’ traditional elites, was ousted June 28. Army officers took him from his home at dawn and put him on a plane to Costa Rica, in the first military-backed coup in Central America in 16 years.
Zelaya sneaked back into the country Sept. 21 and took refuge at the Brazilian Embassy.
Special correspondent Alex Renderos in San Salvador contributed to this report.
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