In Pakistan, Clinton announces resolution to Honduran crisis

By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 30, 2009; 7:48 AM

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and de facto Honduran leader Roberto Micheletti reached an agreement late Thursday to resolve a months-long standoff over who should lead the country and appears to open the door for Zelaya to return to power.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, traveling in Pakistan early Friday, hailed the accord as a big step forward for Latin America after months of political paralysis. The deal was brokered by the Organization of American States, with high-level diplomatic involvement from the United States.

The key to the deal, Clinton said, was Micheletti's agreement that Zelaya, who was forced from office in June, would be reinstated before the elections that are scheduled for Nov 29. It remained unclear whether Zelaya would exercise full presidential powers under the agreement. Clinton said the scope of his authority would be determined by the Honduran Congress.

"I cannot think of another example of a country in Latin America that, having suffered a rupture of its democratic and constitutional order, overcame such a crisis through negotiation and dialogue," Clinton said.

No text of the accord was immediately released. But it appears to soften Micheletti's previous insistence that the Supreme Court -- which has already rejected Zelaya's reinstatement -- decide the issue of whether Zelaya would regain power, the Associated Press reported. Instead, the high court would make a recommendation, but the final decision would be left to a vote in Congress.

The agreement also creates a power-sharing government, the AP reported, and requires both sides to recognize the Nov. 29 elections.

Zelaya was forced from office June 28 by opponents who accused him of pushing for Constitutional reforms as a way to end a ban on presidential term limits. Zelaya denied those allegations.

"We are optimistic because Hondurans can reach agreements that are fulfilled," Zelaya told Radio Globo, an opposition station, the AP reported.

Zelaya, who as been staying at the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, said the agreement "signifies my return to power in the coming days, and peace for Honduras."

The U.S. will work with Honduras to ensure that the election is legitimate, Clinton said.

Clinton dispatched Assistant Secretary Tom Shannon and Dan Restrepo, National Security Council's representative for the Western Hemisphere, to Tegucigalpa this week to finalize the accord, after it became clear to her from telephone conversations with Zelaya and Micheletti that a deal was finally possible.

Clinton praised the OAS and Costa Rican President Oscar Arias for facilitating the talks.

© 2009 The Washington Post Company