Honduras rivals appear close to a deal

This content was published on October 14, 2009 - 21:18

By Luis Rojas Mena
TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduran negotiators reached a deal that could resolve a crisis sparked when the army ousted President Manuel Zelaya in a coup, but it needs to be approved by Zelaya and the de facto government that replaced him.
"I wouldn't talk of an end to the political crisis, but an exit, yes," Victor Meza, a close aide to Zelaya, told reporters after envoys of both the leftist president and de facto leader Roberto Micheletti met in the capital.
"We have agreed on one unified text that will be discussed and analyzed by President Zelaya and Mr. Micheletti," he said.
The June 28 coup triggered Central America's worst crisis in years and has become a test for U.S. President Barack Obama after he promised better relations with Latin America.
The central issue being discussed was the return of Zelaya to power, although Micheletti, a veteran politician who took office after the putsch, said the Supreme Court would have to decide the future of his rival.
"We are going to meet with the people from the commissions right now. As I understand it, Zelaya is asking that Congress determine if he can return or not," Micheletti told state television. "But it is the Supreme Court that has to decide."
Army chief Romeo Vasquez, a key figure in the coup, said a deal appeared close. "I know that we have advanced significantly, we are almost at the end of this crisis," he told local radio HRN.
Zelaya was toppled and forced into exile by soldiers but slipped back into Honduras last month and took refuge in the Brazilian embassy in the capital to avoid arrest.
The United States and other foreign governments have threatened not to recognise elections called for November 29 if democracy is not restored before that date.
Heather Berkman, an analyst for political risk consultants Eurasia Group, said the looming elections had increased pressure on the de facto government to find a solution. "The real concern of the political and economic elites is that the international community will not recognise the elections," Berkman said shortly before Meza said a deal had been reached.
(Additional reporting by Magdalena Morales and Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Kieran Murray)

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