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In shift, Honduras looks to itself to break leadership impasse

With international mediation efforts having failed thus far to broker a resolution to the ousting of President Zelaya, everyone from Honduran businessmen to church leaders to other politicians are offering proposals.

By Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / October 2, 2009

Soldiers stand guard Friday near the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, where ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya

Rodrigo Abd/AP

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Tegucigalpa, Honduras

A Nobel Peace Prize laureate tried and failed. Pressure for a brokered solution has also come, to no avail, from presidents, top diplomats, and the world´s most credible global organizations.

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Now, a new round of ideas, deals, and calls for dialogue is emerging from the one place so few had looked before: Honduras itself.

Some think a solution is impossible without the outside world. But from church leaders to well-heeled businessmen, new compromise proposals from within the country are being floated to end the standoff between ousted President Manuel Zelaya and the interim regime of Roberto Micheletti.

In part, the calls are ones of desperation. Mr. Zelaya returned home last Monday in a bold attempt to regain the presidency, and tensions have since mounted. And as presidential elections slated for Nov. 29 in Honduras near – polls that the international community promises not to recognize if the standoff does not end first – there is a sense among sectors of society that they must act where such organizations as the Organization of American States (OAS) and United Nations (UN) have thus far failed.

"There are extreme sides supporting Zelaya and Micheletti, but most are in the middle," says Roger Marin, a political analyst in Tegucigalpa. "And they are getting tired, and really worried. They were afraid we were about to face real violence."

Three months of turmoil

No clear solution stands out, three months after Zelaya was arrested by the military and deposed for attempting to carry forward with a vote to consider constitutional change, which critics say was intended to undermine democracy and scrap presidential term limits. Zelaya denies this, and says he must be returned to power; Mr. Micheletti says he must be tried for treason and abuse of power.

The key mediation effort, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias's San Jose Accord, has failed over the issue of Zelaya's return. The two contenders have not met, even though both claim the presidency, with Micheletti running the country and Zelaya holed up in the Brazilian Embassy, into where he sneaked last Monday.

Opinions in Honduras about whether Zelaya should return as chief of state are still starkly divided, but overwhelming both is a desire to see an end to the region's worst political crisis in decades.

"The San Jose Accord was getting nowhere … weeks passed and nothing happened. Instead of waiting for Arias, or the UN, or the OAS, we should do something," says businessman Adolfo Facusse, president of the National Association of Industries, who presented his own proposal for negotiation to Micheletti.

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