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Talks deadlocked over proposal to reinstate Zelaya

Video by Florence VILLEMINOT


Latest update : 2009-07-19

Talks aimed at solving Honduras’ political crisis appear deadlocked over proposals to reinstate deposed President Manuel Zelaya and form a coalition government. Interim leader Roberto Micheletti ruled out allowing Zelaya to return to power.

REUTERS - Talks aimed at solving Honduras’ political crisis broke off late Saturday without an agreement, but the two sides agreed to return to the negotiating table on Sunday.

Negotiating teams for deposed President Manuel Zelaya, ousted in a June 28 military coup, and interim leader Roberto Micheletti appeared deadlocked over proposals to reinstate Zelaya and form a coalition government.

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who mediated the talks, acknowledged that little progress had been made.

“Certainly, there are still a lot of differences. We have to make an effort to be flexible and find common ground,” he told reporters after several hours of closed-door meetings.

The head of Micheletti’s team, Carlos Lopez, said the stalemate continued but they continued to study Arias’ proposals seriously. “At the moment there is no agreement on the points that are on the table,” he said.

Arias proposed Zelaya return to power on July 24, according to Rixi Moncada, who represents Zelaya. So far Micheletti has adamantly refused to consider any such option.

Earlier on Saturday, Zelaya said agreed to the mediator’s idea of a unity government, which would involve sharing power with some of his rivals, but only if those who ousted him in a June 28 coup were excluded, a close aide said.

Honduras’ de facto government, for its part, flatly rejected the proposed power-sharing arrangement and also again ruled out allowing Zelaya to return to power.

Zelaya said in an interview with a Honduran radio station that he would return to Honduras in the coming days despite warnings by his enemies that he would be arrested.

The uncertainty surrounding the talks puts Arias, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, in a tough spot as he tries to broker a solution to Central America’s worst political crisis since the end of the Cold War.

Washington has remained on the sidelines as the mediation process unfolded, letting regional players take the lead in a crisis seen as a key test of U.S. President Barack Obama’s efforts to improve relations with Latin America.

At the start of the talks, Arias laid out seven points on which he is seeking agreement, including Zelaya’s return to power to complete his term ending in January 2010 and the formation of a coalition government with all the country’s political parties represented.

Arias also proposed an amnesty for any political crimes committed after the coup and that Zelaya abandon his plans to hold a referendum on extending presidential terms.

Zelaya upset Honduras’ business elite and moderates in his own Liberal party with his leftist policies and rhetoric after taking office in 2005, allying himself with Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez.

The military ousted Zelaya and whisked him out of the country, accusing him of violating the constitution by trying to extend presidential term limits.

The Honduran army was on maximum alert on Saturday and boosted its presence in Zelaya’s home region of Olancho, where supporters gathered on his ranch, and other places seen as possible points of return, an army source said.

Date created : 2009-07-19