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Deal Could Lead to Reinstatement of Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya

Agreement to create power-sharing government paves way for return of leader ousted in military coup

by Haroon Siddique

The interim government of Honduras yesterday appeared to have succumbed to international pressure as it agreed a deal that could pave the way for the return of the country's deposed president, Manuel Zelaya.

Manuel Zelaya: Agreement could lead to his reinstatement as Honduran president. Photograph: Bebeto Matthews/AP Victor Rico, the secretary of political affairs at the Organisation of American States, said an agreement had been reached to leave an opening for the reinstatement of Zelaya – ousted in a military coup in June – by creating a power-sharing government.

He did not reveal the text of the agreement, but called it "a beneficial accord for Honduras and Honduran democracy".

Zelaya yesterday said he was "optimistic I will be restored to the presidency".

The interim president, Roberto Micheletti, said the accord would leave Zelaya's fate in the hands of the supreme court and congress.

Zelaya's envoys had accused Micheletti of dragging out talks to run down the clock to 29 November, when elections to choose a new president are due to take place.

Soldiers arrested the leftwing leader, who was in his pyjamas, in June, taking him to Costa Rica on a plane. The president had angered congress, the supreme court and his own party by allying with the Venezuelan leader, Hugo Chávez.

He returned to Honduras last month and has tried to muster support for his reinstatement from a refuge at the Brazilian embassy, which is surrounded by troops.

Zelaya has been backed almost unanimously by the international community, which has also criticised the de facto Honduran authorities for crackdowns on protesters and the media.

This week's breakthrough followed renewed pressure from senior US officials, who travelled to Honduras in an attempt to end the crisis.

"This is a great moment for Honduras, and its people should be proud that Hondurans have achieved this accord," Tom Shannon, the US assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs, said.

Micheletti called the pact a "significant concession" on his part and said one of its provisions required foreign powers to drop sanctions, reverse aid cutoffs imposed after the coup, and send observers to the elections.

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