The US and OAS appear divided on whether to recognize the upcoming Honduran elections after the collapse of the Washington-brokered deal to solve the political crisis in the Central American country. Ousted President Manuel Zelaya told Radio Globo Nov. 6 that the deal is “dead,” adding: “It makes no sense to continue duping the Honduran people with this type of agreement which only shows a lack of political will to resolve the problem.”
De facto leader Roberto Micheletti announced late the night before that he had formed a “government of unity and reconciliation”—without the participation of the deposed Zelaya. In a nationally televised address, Micheletti said his government had fulfilled its part of the deal by meeting the deadline for the presentation of a new cabinet, “in which Zelaya did not wish to form part, although we are open to incorporating the names he proposes.”
While the agreement did not explicitly guarantee Zelaya’s restoration, it called for the Honduran congress to approve his return before the new unity government is instated. Congressional leaders, who are allies of Micheletti, have stalled on setting a date for the vote—and Micheletti announced the “unity government” unilaterally.
Activist Reina Rivera with the Center for Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights told IPS the new cabinet did not include the different social sectors, as required by the tersm of the deal. She called it a “mockery” of President Zelaya and “those of us who defend democracy.”
“Hondurans must keep fighting for democracy, because we are in the shadow of the military, the real power here, and this business of the ‘national unity cabinet’ sends out a negative signal aimed at legitimising the coup d’état, thus setting a bad precedent for the rest of the world. We are hoping for a strong reaction from the international community,” she told IPS.
Chilean President Ricardo Lagos, a member of the Verification Commission established by the agreement, told CNN en Espanol Nov. 7 that Micheletti broke the agreement by unilaterally forming a unity government without Zelaya’s input. The interim government replied in a statement asking Verification Commission members to not take sides or make statements that can complicate the dispute, “much less celebrate that one of the sides has unilaterally broken the accord.”
Washington caves to coupsters?
The United States and the rest of the hemisphere now appear at odds over the crisis. Official statements indicate Washington is willing to recognize the Nov. 29 election results. Assistant Secretary of State Thomas A. Shannon Jr. suggested that the accord itself is enough to guarantee the legtimiacy of the election. “I think we’re disappointed that both sides are not following this very clear path which has been laid out in this accord,” State Department spokesman Ian C. Kelly told the New York Times Nov. 7, emphasizing that the two sides “need to sit down and start talking again.” As to whether the US will recognize the elections if this doesn’t happen, the Times wrote that “Mr. Kelly would not be pinned down on the issue.”
Meanwhile the secretary general of the Organization of American States, José Miguel Insulza, said that both sides should resume talks on a unity government “that should, naturally, be presided by he who legitimately holds the office of the president of the Honduran nation”—a clear reference to Zelaya.
Assassination attempt on de facto prosecutor
On the night of Nov. 7, gunmen ambushed a convoy carrying Honduras’ Prosecutor General Luis Alberto Rubi on a northern highway, although neither he nor his bodyguards were harmed. Police spokesman Orlin Cerrato did not give a motive for the attack or say whether it was related to the political crisis. But he speculated the attack could be an attempt to “provoke unease in the country.” After the June coup, it was Rubi who filed criminal charges against the ousted President Zelaya. (IPS, AP, Nov. 8; NYT, Nov. 7)
See our last post on Honduras.