Zelaya: US-brokered Honduras deal 'dead'

An accord that would allow the Honduran Congress to vote to allow Manuel Zelaya back into the presidency is 'dead,' the ousted president said. US Sen. Jim DeMint has said the US will recognize Nov. 29 presidential elections regardless of whether Zelaya is returned to office, which many nations around the world have demanded.

By , Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

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    Banners of the Liberal Party are seen in front of the National Congress building as supporters of Honduras' ousted President Manuel Zelaya take part in a rally in Congress in Tegucigalpa, Thursday.
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Despite a US-brokered deal to end the four-month-old political crisis in Honduras, which was hailed as a major breakthrough last week, it appears that effort has unraveled at the seams.

"The accord is dead," said ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, who was arrested and deposed June 28, on the local radio station Radio Globo. "There is no sense in deceiving Hondurans."

Under the terms of the agreement, the Honduran Congress would vote whether to reinstate the country's ousted president, and in turn the US would accept the results of the nation's Nov. 29 presidential election. Honduras was also to announce the creation of a unity government by midnight Thursday, to hold power until a new president takes over in January. Roberto Micheletti, who took over as interim president hours after Mr. Zelaya was arrested, did just that, but without the collaboration of Zelaya. The ousted president has protested the process since the nation's Congress has not moved forward on the reinstatement decision.

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Now the legitimacy of the upcoming elections, which are key to resolving the conflict, could be thrown into question. So, too, is the success of the US diplomatic mission in Honduras. And the crisis now puts the US in the uncomfortable position of possibly recognizing a vote that, by and large, the rest of the world has said it will refuse to accept.

"Clearly this issue has not been resolved. There is no real deal," says Christopher Sabatini, the editor-in-chief of Americas Quarterly in New York, who says the US, which had at first lined up on the same side as governments around the region, might find themselves isolated. "They are now, in fact, part of the problem. I think they may have put themselves in a bigger pickle than if they hadn't" taken a diplomatic role, he said.

In many ways, Honduras remains where it was before the much-hailed deal was announced last week.

Shortly before midnight Thursday, Mr. Micheletti said that a new unity government had formed, calling it "representative of a large ideological and political spectrum in our country and complies strictly with the agreement."

Yet Zelaya is still holed up in the Brazilian Embassy, where he sought refuge after sneaking back into the country Sept. 21 amid broken-down talks. He did not hand over names to be considered in the new government, because the Honduran Congress is not moving forward with a key element of the deal: voting on whether Zelaya can return to office. The deal laid out no deadline under which lawmakers needed to act; Zelaya supporters say Congress is stalling to avoid his reinstatement before elections.

"The de facto regime has failed to live up to the promise that, by this date, the national government would be installed. And, by law, it should be presided by the president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya," says Jorge Reina, a negotiator for Zelaya.

Secretary: Deal ensures US support of elections

It is unclear how the US will react amid claims by Zelaya that the deal is dead. US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Thomas Shannon said on CNN Espanol that the deal itself ensures US support of elections.

And on Thursday, Arturo Valenzuela was confirmed as the assistant secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs. The confirmation was stalled amid partisan fighting in Washington over Zelaya's restoration.

Republican Sen. Jim DeMint, who had blocked the confirmation since July over what he said was the Obama administration's support to restore Zelaya to power, said that he backed down because Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told him that the US will recognize the presidential vote regardless of whether Zelaya comes back to office.

But that is not an acceptable position to many Hondurans – and to many nations around the world, which have long declared that they will accept the elections as legitimate only if Zelaya is restored to the office to which he was democratically elected. His foes say they deposed him because they believed he was trying to change the Constitution to scrap presidential term limits. Zelaya denies this.

Zelaya's supporters congregated outside Congress Thursday to demand his return, and street protests could get more intense leading up to elections, which many have promised to boycott.

"We completely do not recognize this electoral process," Mr. Reina says. "Elections under a dictatorship are a fraud for the people."

–Material from wire reports was used in this article.

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Violence following disputed elections in Kenya took some 1,500 lives in early 2008. The International Criminal Court arrived in Kenya to being investigating. Do Kenyans think this means justice will finally be served? Read more here.

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