Once again, the negotiations between President Manuel Zelaya and the de facto Government of Honduras are on the brink of collapse, as both sides appear unwilling to accept the agreement brokered by President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica. “Only international pressure on both sides can help bring this crisis to a peaceful resolution and restore constitutional order,” states Joy Olson, WOLA’s Executive Director.
The eleven-point agreement, termed the San José Accord, proposed by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias includes the return of President Mel Zelaya by this Friday, the formation of a unity government, a general amnesty for political crimes committed before and after June 28, and moving the elections forward to October 28, 2009. To carry out the rest of his term, Mr. Zelaya would have to agree not to hold the popular consultation he had proposed on a constituent assembly or constitutional reform.
The negotiating team for the de facto government forwarded Arias’ proposal to the Honduran Congress and the Supreme Court this morning for discussion, where it is currently being debated. But, earlier this week, the Court had rejected any agreement that would allow Zelaya to return without facing criminal charges. This, and other comments made by officials of the de facto government suggest that they are unlikely to endorse the Arias proposal.
For his part, Manuel Zelaya appears unwilling to agree to the proposal, objecting to conditions that would be imposed on his presidency, should he return to power to carry out his term. Instead he has called for emergency meetings of the OAS and SICA, a regional coordinating body.
WOLA urges both sides to accept the San José Accord to restore democracy and begin implementing the points in order to avoid greater conflict and bloodshed. In addition, WOLA urges the United States to press both parties to negotiate an agreement based on the San Jose accords. This pressure should include the imposition of tougher sanctions that will move the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti. Referring to Secretary Clinton’s call to the interim president where she warned of tougher sanctions if an agreement was not reached that includes the return of President Zelaya to power, Olson adds, “the US must keep its word and impose sanctions such as suspending all Millennium Challenge Account funds, canceling the visas for members of the de facto government and their families, and freezing all their assets held in the US.”
Vicki Gass, Senior Associate on Rights and Development, [email protected]