Resolution of Political Impasse in Honduras
October 30, 2009
Q1: Is the political impasse in Honduras resolved?
A1: An agreement has been reached between representatives of deposed Honduran president Manuel Zelaya and the de-facto government headed by Roberto Micheletti that appears to have paved the way for a resolution of the political impasse. The agreement is to be signed by both parties today and, if successfully carried out, should allow for the restitution of Zelaya in the presidency, but with limited powers, until his original term in office expires in January 2010. Arrested and expelled from Honduras by the military on June 28, Zelaya’s return to office was the key sticking point blocking resolution of the crisis. With a deal apparently in place, Honduran elections scheduled for November 29 can proceed normally, producing a new president and Congress that will be viewed as legitimate both within Honduras and by the international community. The agreement should also open the door to lifting the suspension of Honduras’s membership in the Organization of American States (OAS).
Q2: What does the agreement entail? Who got what?
A2: The agreement—as one might expect—included concessions from both sides. From the point of view of the de-facto government, the largest concession was Zelaya’s return to power. From Zelaya, it is the transfer of his authority over the armed forces to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal and the creation of a commission to ensure compliance with the terms of the agreement. The agreement also calls for the formation of a “government of reconciliation,” the creation of a “truth commission” to investigate the circumstances surrounding Zelaya’s removal from power, and an appeal to end international economic sanctions against Honduras. With the removal of economic sanctions and the way cleared for elections that should have greater legitimacy within Honduras and have the support of the international community, the big winners in this agreement would be the Honduran people.
Q3: How did this agreement come about?
A3: In the wake of Zelaya’s expulsion and Honduras’s suspension from the OAS, there have been many efforts to broker an end to the impasse, including several missions by OAS representatives, mediation by Costa Rican president Oscar Arias, and diplomatic efforts by the United States and others. The key to resolving the impasse was to arrive at an agreement between the parties in Honduras, but the international community played a facilitating role. The final agreement was in essence an updated version of the accord proposed by President Arias. A high-level delegation of U.S. officials was in Tegucigalpa when the agreement was reached and was credited—along with the OAS—by Micheletti as having played a positive role in helping broker the agreement.
Peter DeShazo is director of the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.
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