Tue, May 24, 2011 - Page 7 News List

Zelaya and Lobo sign agreement

RECONCILIATION:The pact guarantees the safe return of ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya and the participation of his his supporters in 2014 polls

AP, CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

Ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya signed an accord with his successor on Sunday that would permit Zelaya’s return to his homeland and the country’s re-entry into the Organization of American States (OAS).

Shaking hands with smiles, Zelaya and current Honduran President Porfirio Lobo sat down in this Caribbean port to sign an agreement that was worked out by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.

The goal is to end the political crisis caused by the June 2009 coup that sent Zelaya into exile and caused the OAS to suspend Honduras as a member.

Santos said by Twitter that the agreement “implies the return of Zelaya to Honduras and its return to the OAS.” Chavez promised to make sure the terms of the accord were respected.

“We will be monitoring very closely that the agreement is fulfilled because we know there will be forces inside and outside Honduras who are going to try to boycott the accord,” Chavez said.

Santos attended the signing of the “Cartagena Accord” and Chavez, who is recovering from a knee injury, was represented by Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro.

Zelaya attended even though a spokesman for Lobo had said the former leader would not be in Cartagena, but rather sign the agreement later in the day at a forum in Managua, Nicaragua, with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, Salvadoran President Mauricio Funes and Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom.

A Honduran government statement said that with the accord, Lobo has fulfilled the electoral mandate given him to “achieve national reconciliation and unity.”

Lobo was scheduled to meet later with Ortega, Funes and Colom in Managua to discuss regional security issues and the re-entry of Honduras.

“Zelaya will be given the security and treatment of a former president because he deserves our respect and consideration,” Lobo said at a news conference on Saturday.

Zelaya, who has been living in exile in the Dominican Republic, said last week that he planned to return to his homeland on Saturday.

Zelaya was overthrown by the military and hustled out of Honduras almost two years ago in a dispute over changing the country’s Constitution. International sanctions and months of negotiations led by the US and the OAS failed to persuade an interim government to restore Zelaya to power.

Honduras went ahead with November 2009 elections that had been scheduled before the coup and Lobo was voted to office.

Honduras’ courts recently dropped corruption charges and arrest warrants pending against Zelaya, paving the way for the nation’s restoration as an OAS member.

The Cartagena accord includes the following points: an end to the persecution of Zelaya and his supporters and his safe return to Honduras; a national plebiscite on reforming the country’s fundamental laws; respect for human rights and the investigation of possible violations; and guarantees that Zelaya supporters can participate in Honduras’ political life and in 2014 elections as a political party.

Honduras’ return to the OAS is expected to be made official during the group’s general assembly in El Salvador on June 5 to 7.

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