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Honduran opponents weigh power-sharing proposal

Ousted President Manuel Zelaya and the country's interim leaders resume talks in Costa Rica today amid Zelaya's fresh vows to return with or without a deal.

By Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / July 19, 2009

Carlos Lopez, a representative for Honduras's interim President Roberto Micheletti spoke to the media Saturday as Rixi Moncada, (r.) a representative of deposed Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, looks on, after negotiations in San Jose, Costa Rica.

Juan Carlos Ulate/Reuters

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Mexico City

Ousted Honduran leader Manual Zelaya promised that if talks aimed at restoring him to the presidency of Honduras failed by midnight Saturday he would return home anyway – raising concerns that violence could ensue.

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For now, however, it seems that both sides – while apparently nowhere close to compromise – have agreed to another day of dialogue.

"Certainly, there are still a lot of differences. We have to make an effort to be flexible and find common ground," said Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who is to resume talks Sunday.

A government official in Costa Rica, Pablo Gueren, told reporters Saturday that Mr. Zelaya, who was ousted by the Honduran military on June 28, and the interim government, which was sworn in hours later, would study a proposal overnight.

A proposal for sharing power

Mr. Arias, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1987 for his work ending Central American conflicts in the 80s, laid out a plan Saturday that includes allowing Zelaya to return to power to complete his term, which is to end in January. But the interim government of Roberto Micheletti has refused to consider that possibility.

Arias also proposed the formation of a national unity government that would include representatives from all of the country's political parties; amnesty for political crimes committed after the ouster; and the guarantee that Zelaya abandon any referendum on presidential term limits. He also proposed to move up presidential elections by a month, to late October.

Earlier in the day, a representative to Zelaya had said that their side agreed to the proposal "on principle." But the interim government says that no negotiation is possible so long as it includes Zelaya's return to the country as head of state.

Zelaya vows to return

Zelaya promises he will return to Honduras, though he has not specified how, if negotiations this weekend fail.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez added speculation that his return was imminent Friday, saying that Zelaya would be returning within hours. During Zelaya's last attempt to return to Honduras, at least one his supporters was shot dead in a skirmish with authorities as crowds gathered at the international airport in the capital, Tegucigalpa, to await his plane.

• Information from the wire services was used

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