Rival Honduran leaders in Costa Rica for talks
Both ousted President Manuel Zelaya and interim leader Roberto Micheletti sounded uncompromising notes at the start of official dialogue Thursday in San Jose.
Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya arrived in Costa Rica, where negotiations start today, with a message to his rivals: he expects the interim government, which took over the country after a military coup June 28, to step down within 24 hours.Skip to next paragraph
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"My presence here is not a negotiation," Mr. Zelaya told reporters Wednesday night.
One day earlier, Roberto Micheletti, who was sworn in as provisional president of Honduras the day of Zelaya's ouster, stated bluntly: "We are open to dialogue as long as it does not involve the return of President Zelaya."
Not exactly words of compromise.
Yet today, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias will attempt to foster just that. And common ground will not be readily found. It is not just the finer points that are sticky.
Zelaya, who was arrested by his military and exiled to Costa Rica, has been backed by the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and leaders across the globe, and demands no less than full reinstatement. Mr. Micheletti, meantime, says that Zelaya has broken the law and would be arrested immediately upon return.
What is clear is that one side, or both, must back down. And while Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has called for the return of the "democratic constitutional order," no breakthrough will be hammered out without blemishing justice in Honduras. "In coming to some kind of compromise, all of them will have to turn a blind eye to the illegal things going on," says Kevin Casas-Zamora, the former vice president of Costa Rica and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
A series of analysts have floated the following scenarios:
• Zelaya is allowed to serve out his term, which ends in January, provided that he guarantees he will not seek re-election (which he has already stated as his intention). In return, those who sent him into exile would receive amnesty for their actions.
• If Zelaya does return to the presidency, it could be mostly symbolic, says Christopher Sabatini, the editor in chief of Americas Quarterly in New York. It could be as part of a coalition government, where power is shared and where more checks and balances are put on his administration. It could also include an ongoing diplomatic mission to oversee the political landscape in Honduras.