Page last updated at 07:57 GMT, Friday, 30 October 2009

Honduras rivals resolve deadlock

Roberto Micheletti (29 October 2009)
Mr Micheletti became interim leader following the army-led coup on 28 June

The interim leader of Honduras says he is ready to sign a pact to end its crisis which could include the return of ousted President Manuel Zelaya.

Roberto Micheletti said the agreement would create a power-sharing government and require both sides to recognise the result of November's presidential poll.

Mr Zelaya said the deal, which requires the approval of the Supreme Court and Congress, would be signed on Friday.

The president was forced out of the country on 28 June.

His critics said he was seeking to amend the constitution to remove the current one-term limit on serving as president, and pave the way for his re-election.

Stephen Gibbs
Stephen Gibbs, BBC News

The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has described this agreement as "historic", that suggests we are extremely close to a deal.

It is also significant that both sides say that the Congress of Honduras has to approve this.

That could mean a slight delay, but it might actually also have been the key to the solution. Neither side could agree and so ultimately, perhaps to save face, they had to leave it to others finally, and symbolically, to make an agreement.

It appears the US government put the pressure on the Micheletti government to say leave this to the Honduran Congress. And although the Congress initially voted to remove President Zelaya from power, now it wants him back, as everyone understands that it is the only way out of this.

Mr Zelaya returned covertly to Tegucigalpa on 21 September and has since been holed up in the Brazilian embassy. He says he has returned "for the restoration of democracy".

His term of office is due to finish at the end of January.

Negotiators for Mr Zelaya and Mr Micheletti resumed talks in the capital on Thursday in an attempt to resolve the political crisis which has gripped Honduras since the army-backed coup four months ago.

The opponents had earlier been told by US Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon that they had to reach an accord in order to ensure international support for the election on 29 November.

Afterwards, Mr Micheletti announced that a power-sharing deal had been reached that included a "significant concession".

"I have authorised my negotiating team to sign a deal that marks the beginning of the end of the country's political situation," the interim leader told a news conference.

"With regard to the most contentious subject in the deal, the possible restitution of Zelaya to the presidency" would be included, he said.

Manuel Zelaya inside the Brazilian embassy (29 October 2009)
Mr Zelaya said the agreement would restore democracy to Honduras

Mr Zelaya described the accord as a "triumph for Honduran democracy", and said he was "optimistic" of returning to power.

The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, meanwhile said she wished to congratulate both sides on "reaching an historic agreement".

Mr Micheletti said the ousted president would only be able return to office after a vote in his favour in Congress that would first have to be authorised by the country's Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court ruled that Mr Zelaya had violated the constitution in June, while Congress voted to remove him from office.

Mr Micheletti - who as the speaker of Congress was constitutionally second-in-line to the presidency - was sworn in by Congress as interim leader following the coup.

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