Costa Rican leader: Honduras promises to end crackdown

In an impassioned speech, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias said the de facto leader of Honduras has promised to remove harsh emergency measures his government imposed over the weekend amid a three-month political crisis.

Speaking at the Americas Conference in Coral Gables Tuesday, Arias said that Honduras' acting president, Roberto Micheletti, told him on Monday that he would meet with congress and the courts to remove the measures, which limit the media and people's ability to gather.

Arias said ending the emergency measures was key to creating an environment that would allow for free and open elections scheduled for Nov. 29.

"This crisis will not be solved with elections alone," he said. "But with elections that are recognized by all."

Another key to those elections: Ousted President Manuel Zelaya needs to be allowed to finish out his term.

Zelaya and Micheletti have been at odds since June 28, when Zelaya was ousted at gunpoint and sent into exile. Micheletti assumed the presidency and has insisted it was a constitutional transition. However, not a single nation has recognized the new government.

Arias scorned those who try to justify the action in Honduras as anything other than a coup.

"A coup dressed in silk is still a coup,: he said.

Zelaya made a surprise return to Honduras on Sept. 20 and since then has been holed up in the Brazilian embassy in the capital of Tegucigalpa. The tense stand-off makes dialogue more important than ever, Arias said.

Arias' initial attempts to find a negotiated solution to the crisis broke down over his insistence that Zelaya return to power. Micheletti has said that Zelaya's only future in Honduras is as a defendant against four charges, including treason and misuse of power.

Arias said those talks, known as the "San Jose Accords," still represent the only viable solution to the crisis. The deal would allow Zelaya to return to office, albeit with limited powers.

If the coup is allowed to stand, it would represent a "dramatic step backward in history."

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