Effort to end Honduras crisis dodges a roadblock

McClatchy NewspapersAugust 9, 2009 

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — The de facto government of Honduras Sunday canceled and then rescheduled a trip by foreign envoys who're seeking to resolve a six-week-old political crisis caused by the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya.

Honduras' interim government initially said Sunday that it couldn't accept a delegation led by Jose Miguel Insulza, the secretary general of the Organization of American States, because of what it called his "lack of objectivity, impartiality and professionalism."

The interim government led by President Roberto Micheletti later said it had worked out its differences with the OAS over which foreign ministers would visit. It also said that Inzulsa had been downgraded to "observer" status.

The government's communique Sunday evening said it would settle on a new date for the visit "in the next two days."

Many independent observers give an OAS delegation the best chance to resolve the power struggle in this Central American nation that led the military to whisk Zelaya out of the country on June 28 and the Congress to replace him with Micheletti.

The OAS's Insulza has angered Micheletti government officials by calling for Zelaya's return without, they think, taking time to understand that Zelaya repeatedly violated the law by trying to hold an illegal vote on June 28.

They think that Zelaya was trying to use that vote to amend the Honduran constitution to remain in power, following the model of his political ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and another leaders of Chavez's ALBA trade and political alliance.

"Insulza has cast his lot with the ALBA group," Eduardo Gamarra, a Latin American studies professor at Florida International University, said by telephone from Miami. "He's burned a lot of bridges."

Zelaya supporters earlier Sunday had quickly criticized the initial decision to cancel the trip.

"They just want to stall and delay things," said Carlos Sosa, who was Zelaya's OAS ambassador, had said by telephone from Washington, where the organization is based. "They hope by delaying things they can have an election and the world will recognize it."

Sosa said Zelaya's supporters in the country would step up their pressure on Micheletti to give way to Zelaya and keep pressing foreign governments not to accept the results of the planned Nov. 29 presidential election to choose Zelaya's successor.

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias is mediating on a parallel track. He's presented a 12-point plan that calls for Zelaya to return and head a government of national reconciliation for the final five months of his term. The plan also would limit Zelaya's powers and give amnesty to anyone who's accused of committing illegal acts just before or during the coup.

Zelaya has accepted the plan, but Micheletti has rejected it.

A State Department spokesperson Sunday said the Obama administration remains committed to the restoration of democracy in Honduras.

"We continue to believe a negotiated solution is the right way to go and the Arias Plan is a good one," the State Department said. "Both sides would be well advised to accept it."

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McClatchy Newspapers 2009

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