Can Arias broker a deal on Honduras?
Costa Rican President and Nobel Peace Prize winner Oscar Arias will begin leading talks today between ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and the interim government.
San Jose, Costa Rica; and Mexico City
One of the unexpected byproducts of the political crisis in Honduras has been the rare accord among leaders across the ideological spectrum.Skip to next paragraph
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But unanimous world condemnation of the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya put any future negotiations in a tough spot: who could actually remain an objective mediator?
Starting Thursday, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias is going to try.
The Nobel Prize winner, who has dedicated 25 years to peace efforts in countries ripped by civil war along the Central American isthmus, will lead a series of dialogues with the two men claiming to be the president of Honduras: the ousted Mr. Zelaya, and Roberto Micheletti, who was sworn in as the new provisional president the same day Zelaya was kicked out. If anyone is poised to bridge positions that have been thus far intractable, many say it is Mr. Arias.
"He has done this before and he did it in a situation more complicated than this," says Constantino Urcuyo, a professor of political science at the University of Costa Rica. "He is clear in his role in this conflict. He knows he needs to be impartial."
Both sides dig in their heels
The crisis in Honduras ignited after the military arrested Zelaya last Sunday morning, on a warrant issued by the Supreme Court, for pushing forward with a constituent assembly that many say was aimed at unconstitutionally scrapping term limits for presidents. Zelaya was sent to Costa Rica, and has since traveled to the US, Nicaragua, and El Salvador shoring up support. Last weekend, the Organization of American States (OAS) unanimously voted to suspend Honduras from the regional body.
So far, both Zelaya and Mr. Micheletti, at least publicly, have dug in their heels: Zelaya has promised to return to power until his term ends in early 2010, while Micheletti says that, while open to dialogue, Zelaya's return is not on the negotiating table.
Arias confident, inspires confidence
"It will not be easy," Arias said at a press conference Wednesday. "Their positions are very distant. But I am confident we will arrive at a solution."