Mon, Oct 12, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Zelaya, interim camp reach agreements

‘AMNESIA’ The two sides agreed to a joint Cabinet and to not offer amnesty for coup leaders. They will not discuss Zelaya returning as president of Honduras until tomorrow

AFP , TEGUCIGALPA

Deposed Honduran president Manuel Zelaya and the interim government agreed on Saturday to create a joint Cabinet and ditch an amnesty for coup leaders, one of the ousted leader’s negotiators said.

But both measures depend on Zelaya’s return to the presidency, still far from certain four months into the standoff that emerged from the June 28 coup.

Union leader Juan Barahona, one of Zelaya’s top three negotiators, told a rally of hundreds of the president’s followers that the joint cabinet, if realized, would be composed of ministers from both governments.

The Zelaya camp, he added, opposed amnesty because such a move would mean “amnesia, forgetfulness and forgiveness, and we got cannot condone the coup.”

“If after all of this, they say that there is not going to be ­reinstatement [of Zelaya], what difference does it make if we made progress on anything else?” Barahona said. “Tuesday, we are going to get at that key point in detail. If on October 15 we do not have a deal, the talks will have failed.”

The formation of a national unity government and amnesty for crimes linked to the coup were two key points of the San Jose reconciliation agenda set out in August, whose central tenet calls for Zelaya’s return to office.

The discussions came ahead of a three-day pause that prolongs the uncertainty of resolving the political crisis that has paralyzed the impoverished Central American country since late June.

The resumption of talks tomorrow will come just two days before the Thursday deadline given by the Zelaya camp for his unconditional return to power.

Reinstating him any later, ­supporters say, risks causing a delay in presidential and legislative elections planned for Nov. 29.

“I do not understand the three-day break,” Zelaya’s wife Xiomara Castro said from within the Brazilian embassy, where the deposed leader has been holed up since his surprise return to the capital on Sept. 21. “When there’s persecution, repression, the minutes and hours count. [The pause] is a way to delay the process, with time passing and the president still not returning to power.”

A diplomatic delegation from the Organization of American States left Honduras on Thursday without resolving a months-old political impasse between de facto leader Roberto Micheletti and Zelaya, who was forced out of the country at gunpoint.

A rancher known for his trademark white cowboy hat, Zelaya veered to the left after his election and alarmed conservatives by aligning himself with leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. They feared Zelaya was seeking to change the constitution to allow himself to seek reelection.

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