REUTERS - Honduran interim leader Roberto Micheletti said on Sunday ousted president Manuel Zelaya would not be allowed to return to power under any conditions but could be granted an amnesty if he comes home quietly to face justice.
“If he comes peacefully first to appear before the authorities ... I don’t have any problem (with an amnesty for him),” Micheletti told Reuters in an interview at the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa in a room guarded by five heavily armed soldiers.
But the interim president, installed by Honduras’ Congress after the June 28 military coup that deposed Zelaya, repeated his position that Zelaya would not be reinstated as president “under any conditions.”
This signaled Micheletti’s continuing defiance of international condemnation of the coup and calls from the Organization of American States, the United States and the United Nations General Assembly for Zelaya to be restored to office.
Honduras’ Congress and Supreme Court ordered the army to remove Zelaya last month, arguing he had violated the country’s constitution by attempting to lift presidential term limits.
Zelaya, who has been traveling in the Americas to shore up his support, also ran afoul of his political base and ruling elites in the conservative country by allying himself with Venezuela’s firebrand leftist president, Hugo Chavez.
Micheletti blamed Chavez for the political crisis.
“Chavez is the great damage that democracy in Honduras has suffered. We hold him responsible for any incident or any invasion that might come against Honduras from any country,” he said.
Micheletti’s interim government is holding talks with Zelaya’s representatives under the auspices of Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. The meetings have resulted in little apparent progress, aside from an agreement to keep talking.
Micheletti said Arias was due to call his negotiating team in the next 8-10 days to organize the next round of talks and that he was very satisfied with Arias’ impartiality.