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In Honduras, Elections Pose Test for Diplomats

October 13, 2009 at 12:00 AM EDT
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With presidential elections just weeks away, diplomats are struggling to resolve the standoff in Honduras between deposed president Manuel Zelaya, and his ouster, Roberto Micheletti.
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RAY SUAREZ: Three-and-a-half months after the president of Honduras was removed in a military-backed coup, the protests and clashes and arrests have unfolded on the streets of Tegucigalpa. The chaos was sparked in June, when soldiers whisked President Manuel Zelaya from his bed. He was flown to exile in Costa Rica, accused of trying to unconstitutionally extend his presidential term.

Within hours, the military handed power to congressional leader Roberto Micheletti, with the support of Congress and the Supreme Court. But no country has yet recognized the de facto government or the elections it’s planned for November between two different candidates.

After two unsuccessful attempts to return, Zelaya, who still lays claim to the presidency, quietly returned to Honduras last month, taking refuge in the Brazilian Embassy, where he’s been ever since.

Diplomats have been struggling to figure out an end to the standoff, and the Organization of American States has taken the lead in resolving the conflict.

Last week, Zelaya, backed by the U.S. and other countries, gave the negotiators an ultimatum. He called for next month’s elections to be postponed if he’s not reinstated by this Thursday

MANUEL ZELAYA, president, Honduras: The electoral calendar will be invalidated due to lack of validity, due to lack of credibility, due to lack of trust from the national and international community.

RAY SUAREZ: The U.S. supports Zelaya, but the Obama administration has been criticized for not taking a more active role to reinstate him.

BARACK OBAMA: The same critics who say that the United States has not intervened enough in Honduras are the same people who say that we’re always intervening and Yankees need to get out of Latin America. You can’t have it both ways.

RAY SUAREZ: For now, acting President Micheletti has lifted the curfews, but imposed new restrictions on the media ahead of the elections.