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Zelaya inches toward winning support

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Staff Writers
Tegucigalpa, Honduras (UPI) Oct 7, 2009
Ousted Honduran President Jose Manuel Zelaya appears to be inching toward winning support for a return to power to help end the stalemate over his overthrow and forced exile in June.

The return, if it comes, is expected to be temporary, however, analysts said. Zelaya won vocal support from Brazilian President Luiz Inaco Lula da Silva, who called the interim government of Roberto Micheletti illegitimate. Further support came from politicians in Honduras, who see Zelaya's restoration to power as a way of saving the country from international isolation and further economic damage.

With presidential elections looming in November, Honduras faces further diplomatic and economic setbacks unless the polls are conducted with Zelaya back in the presidential seat, analysts said.

Micheletti relaxed curfews this week and admitted for the first time the manner of Zelaya's ouster from power was a mistake. Zelaya was forced out of Honduras, reportedly at gunpoint, and took refuge in Nicaragua.

Envoys from the Organization of American States have returned to Tegucigalpa to negotiate a compromise solution. Among options being considered is one of bringing Zelaya back into power, only to preside over the elections on Nov. 29, and then give way to a new president.

"For us the solution in Honduras is quite simple," Lula said during a visit to Stockholm. Those who participated in the coup should leave office and allow the return of Zelaya so that elections can take place next November as scheduled and let the problem be solved, Lula said.

"The only difficulty is that there's a president that shouldn't be there," Lula said in comments reported by MercoPress after he met with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, the current president of the European Union, and European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Zelaya, who is holed up in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa since returning from exile in September, issued a new statement calling on Micheletti to quit and allow him to serve out his term, which ends in January.

Last week Zelaya faced Brazilian calls for restraint in his fiery pronouncements as the crisis deepened. This week Lulu reinforced his support, saving Zelaya was a "guest" of Brazil at the embassy.

Three separate mediation attempts have failed to persuade Micheletti to give way to Zelaya. A compromise mediated by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias and backed by the Obama administration proposed Zelaya's return under clear guidelines but did not win Micheletti's support.

The Arias package sought to assure Micheletti that Zelaya would not attempt another constitutional change -- one of the reasons seen behind his ouster June 28.

Another proposal by Adolfo Facusse, the head of the Honduran National Industrial Association, called for Zelaya's return with limited powers but with guarantee of a lifetime seat in Congress.

Facusse also proposed a U.N. peackeeper role to heal the split in Honduras over Zelaya's ouster and to help restore the economy. Honduras has lost tens of millions of dollars due to industrial stoppages in support of Zelaya and suspension of international financial inflows and U.S. and EU aid.

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