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Page last updated at 04:00 GMT, Sunday, 19 July 2009 05:00 UK

Honduran rivals in talks deadlock

Ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya in Managua, Nicaragua (17 July 2009)
Manuel Zelaya says he is Honduras's democratically elected leader

Talks on ending the political crisis in Honduras are to continue for another day, after the rival sides failed to agree on proposals to end the deadlock.

Deposed President Manuel Zelaya has said the Costa Rica talks, mediated by the country's President Oscar Arias, are the last chance to reach a deal.

Mr Zelaya had vowed to return straight away even if no deal was reached, but has now agreed to wait until 24 July.

The interim government has said it will arrest him if he does return.

Rixi Moncada, the coordinator of Mr Zelaya's delegation, said the deposed leader would return to Honduras next Friday and the team was now considering the proposals put forward by Mr Arias.

Mr Arias said his seven-point proposal includes "the legitimate restitution" of Mr Zelaya as the head of a reconciliation government, "a post where he will remain until the end of the constitutional term for which he was elected".

"This will end on 27 January next year, a date in which he will give way to the candidate chosen freely and democratically by the people in elections supervised and recognised by the international community," said Mr Arias.

The second proposal is the creation of a unity government made up of representatives of all political parties.

Mr Arias has suggested that early elections could be brought forward to late October, with Mr Zelaya relinquishing control of the military a month before the poll date to ensure "the transparency and normalcy" of the vote.

He has also proposed an amnesty for political crimes committed before and after the 28 June coup.

Protests

Honduran interim President Roberto Micheletti in Tegucigalpa (16 July 2009)
Mr Micheletti is a former political ally of ousted leader Mr Zelaya

But the interim government, under leader Roberto Micheletti, has rejected the proposal, with Assistant Foreign Minister Martha Lorena Alvarado saying that it would be "impossible" for Mr Zelaya to return as leader.

"The reinstatement of Zelaya, as we have maintained and now repeat, is not negotiable," she said.

"There is no possibility of him returning to Honduras as president."

Mr Zelaya's team of negotiators are reported to have agreed to the proposals "in principle".

But Mr Zelaya, speaking to the BBC in Nicaragua on Saturday, said he would not agree to anything that gave concessions to the people who ousted him from office.

His spokesman Enrique Flores said the team would "declare the talks a failure" if no agreement was reached on Sunday.

Mr Zelaya was forced into exile on 28 June and the interim government says he will be arrested if he comes back.

It prevented Mr Zelaya's earlier attempted homecoming on 5 July.

A few hundred pro-Zelaya demonstrators gathered outside Mr Arias' house in Costa Rica, where the talks were taking place.

Thousands of his supporters also continued to protest in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, blocking roads and chanting slogans.

"Nothing will come out of the negotiations and people know that," said Cesar Silva, an organiser of the demonstration.

Options exhausted

Pro-Zelaya protesters in Tegucigalpa, Honduras (18 July 2009)
Supporters of Mr Zelaya have continued to block roads in the capital

Speaking from Nicaragua on Friday, Mr Zelaya promised to return to Honduras "one way or another" regardless of the outcome of Saturday's negotiations.

His wife, Xiomara Castro, said midnight was "the deadline" for an agreement.

"All the diplomatic avenues are nearly exhausted. We hope there is a decision tomorrow (Saturday)," she said on Friday.

Mr Micheletti heads a military-backed government, which ousted Mr Zelaya amid a dispute with Congress and the courts.

Mr Zelaya had planned to hold a non-binding public consultation to ask people whether they supported moves to change the constitution.

His critics said the move was unconstitutional and aimed to remove the current one-term limit on serving as president and pave the way for his possible re-election.



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