Friday, July 10, 2009

Honduras's political future

Supporters of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya gather at a roadblock protest on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa on Thursday. Officials began talks on the political future of the country.

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and the men who kicked him out of power nearly two weeks ago began mediated talks Thursday in a bid to end the Central American country's biggest political crisis in decades.

Even as negotiations over the future of Honduras's government began in Costa Rica, however, hopes were dim for a quick solution. Mr. Zelaya has said the only solution is his return to power, while Roberto Micheletti, the man who replaced him as president, says everything can be discussed except Mr. Zelaya's return as president.

That's called staking out negotiating positions.

Mr. Micheletti's departure [back to Honduras; he left behind a four-representative team] was "not too auspicious," said Michael Shifter, vice president for policy at the Inter-American Dialogue think tank in Washington. "The talks are a positive development, and Arias is the right guy, but negotiating the end to Central American wars may seem easy compared to this."

And that's pessimism. But, both sides face pressure from their supporters not to budge, Mr. Shifter said.

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