TEGUCIGALPA – Barely two days after agreeing to an accord to resolve the political crisis in Honduras caused by his June 28 removal, deposed President Mel Zelaya and current President Roberto Micheletti are beginning to differ on the details of the pact.
The crux of the disagreement is once again the restitution to power of the ousted Zelaya, who for almost a week blocked the talks until last week a U.S. delegation and the Organization of American States managed to get the two sides to agree on a way forward.
The Tegucigalpa-San Jose Accord establishes that: “Both negotiating committees (those of Zelaya and Micheletti) have decided, respectively, that Congress ... will decide ... with respect to ‘restoring the head of the Executive Branch to his status prior to June 28,’” the date of the coup that toppled Zelaya.
Zelaya said in a telephone conversation from the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, where he has been holed up since sneaking back into the country on Sept. 21, that this means “asking Congress with regard to reversing the situation, that is, to tell them: ‘Sirs, with all respect, return to the State of Law and (abandon) illegality.”
“That is a request that both parties have made,” he added.
However, the current Honduras government, in a document prepared on the pact distributed to reporters, said that the agreement “makes no type of recommendation about what decision the Congress should make.”
For Zelaya, this interpretation would be “a dirty game and an absurd game, not very intelligent” and “it would put them (the de facto authorities) in a very bad position before the international community.”
“It seems to me that the spirit of the accord is completely clear. The positions of the international community, the Honduran people and (me) are completely clear and now it is the responsibility of Congress to reverse the coup or continue with the coup,” he said.
“If the coup d’état is not reversed, then the accord is going to break down, the accord would be null and the accord logically would be an absurdity,” he declared.
Zelaya currently enjoys the support of only about a fifth of the legislators, and Congress had before his ouster already opened an investigation into whether he was mentally fit to govern, voted to disapprove his violations of the Constitution and replaced him with Micheletti after he was ousted. The Supreme Court, which will also weigh-in with an opinion, has already rejected Zelaya's return, saying he was replaced as president on June 28 because he violated the Constitution.
The deposed leader also believes that his restitution must be accomplished before next Thursday, the deadline for the installation of a “Government of Unity and National Reconciliation,” according to the accord, which does not specify who should preside over that prospective government.
But the document distributed by the Micheletti government says that “with regard to the intervention by Congress ... in the matter of the reinstatement of Mr. Zelaya ... it only sets forth today’s date (that is, last Friday, the day of the accord’s signing) to introduce the request” to the legislature, but sets no deadline for a decision on the matter.
In response to the stance of the deposed leader, the deputy foreign minister, Martha Alvarado, accused him of wanting to “destabilize” the elections scheduled for Nov. 29 and to be “putting the accord into a precarious” state.
“This bad interpretation that has been given to the dates is a very well-known tactic with the aim of destabilizing the electoral process,” Alvarado said.
Meanwhile, former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos and U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis will be on the verification committee for the accord signed to resolve the crisis, and the pair will travel to the Central American country this week to begin their work, the OAS said Sunday.
Besides the two politicians, also comprising the committee will be Hondurans Jorge Reina and Arturo Corrales, who have been representing Zelaya and Micheletti, respectively, in the negotiations.
On Friday, the two sides signed the crucial accord to resolve the crisis.
The accord includes the creation of the government of national reconciliation and states that Congress will vote on whether or not to reinstate Zelaya in power.
One of the points in the accord stipulates that “two members of the international community and two members of the national community” will make up the verification committee.
On Sunday, OAS chief Jose Miguel Insulza announced that the two international members would be Lagos
and Solis, a U.S. citizen who is the daughter of Latino immigrants.
Insulza said that the pair will arrive in Tegucigalpa on Tuesday to meet with the committee’s Honduran representatives, Reina and Corrales.
The international members will travel to Honduras accompanied by the secretary of political affairs for the OAS, Victor Rico, and a delegation of top officials from the organization.
The OAS has played an important role in the search for a solution to the crisis in Honduras, which it suspended from participation in the regional organization in response to the coup against Zelaya.
This measure, adopted in early July, is the most energetic such move to be made by the organization in the past 20 years.
Insulza said on Sunday that lifting the sanctions on Honduras is a matter that the OAS should take up, as was made clear at the meeting of the organization’s Permanent Council meeting on Friday.
At that meeting, Bolivian representative Jose Pinelo proposed that the OAS hold an extraordinary general assembly meeting in Tegucigalpa on Nov. 16, before the elections, to discuss withdrawing the suspension of Honduras from the organization.
“The possibility that this meeting might be held on Nov. 16, once the accord is implemented, has been rather well-received among the members of the Permanent Council,” Insulza said.
“It’s very possible that it will happen in this way,” he added.