Ousted Honduran president: US weakened, yielded

AP News
Posted: Nov 13, 2009 12:24 AM

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya accused the U.S. government Thursday of weakening and changing course in the conflict over the June 28 coup that saw soldiers hustle him out of the country.

Washington has said it supports Zelaya's reinstatement, but a U.S.-brokered pact signed by Zelaya and the government in place since the coup sets no deadline for his return to office and hopes of reinstating the deposed leader before Nov. 29 presidential elections appeared to be dimming.

U.S. officials "have suddenly declared they are going to wait for the elections because they changed their position midstream," Zelaya told Radio Globo. Zelaya has demanded he be reinstated before the vote.

"The United States weakened in the face of the dictator," Zelaya said, referring to interim President Roberto Micheletti. But Zelaya also said "the nations of the world, including the United States itself, what they really want is reinstatement and they have condemned the coup."

This week, the United States sent Craig Kelly, deputy assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, to Honduras to try to move along the U.S.-brokered pact, which calls for a unity government and for Congress to vote on whether to restore Zelaya.

Congressional leaders say they are waiting for an opinion from prosecutors and Honduras' Supreme Court, which ordered Zelaya's arrest for refusing to drop plans for a referendum on constitutional change that the court had ruled illegal. Key lawmakers have indicated there might not be a vote until after the elections.

"There is an accord and we want it to advance because we think it is important for the country and the region. It's urgent and we have to advance," Kelly said Tuesday.

On Thursday, U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky, a Democrat from Illinois, said during a visit that "the (Honduran) congress needs to move forward quickly ... to reinstall Zelaya as president, and the democratic order needs to be restored."

Zelaya declared the agreement a failure last week when Micheletti announced the creation of a national unity government even though Zelaya had not proposed any candidates.

Micheletti on Thursday repeated a similar offer to resign if Zelaya agrees to seek asylum abroad and stop his political activity. Zelaya has been holed up at the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa since sneaking back into Honduras despite the government's threat to arrest him.

Micheletti also said the government is investigating purported plans by unspecified Venezuelans and Nicaraguans to disrupt the elections. He did not give details.

Zelaya is urging the international community not to recognize the outcome of the November election. Washington initially joined other Western Hemisphere countries in warning that they would not recognize the vote if Zelaya is not reinstated first.

But after brokering the pact, U.S. diplomats indicated Washington would support the elections, which had been scheduled before the coup, as long the deal was implemented.