Page last updated at 22:50 GMT, Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Honduras politicians defer vote

Roberto Micheletti (29 October 2009)
Roberto Micheletti became interim leader four months ago

Leaders of the Honduran Congress have deferred a vote on the reinstatement of deposed president Manuel Zelaya and asked the Supreme Court for its view.

A Congressional vote on Mr Zelaya's reinstatement is a key component of a deal struck last week to end the current political crisis.

Correspondents say the latest move may lead to the collapse of the agreement.

Meanwhile, officials from the US and Chile have arrived in Honduras to join a panel monitoring the deal.

US Labour Secretary Hilda Solis and former Chilean President Ricardo Lagos are being joined by representatives of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The accord - backed by the US and the OAS - proposes a power-sharing government.

Mr Zelaya has warned that he might consider the agreement null and void if Congress fails to vote to reinstate him by Thursday - the deadline for the full implementation of the accord.

Once congressional leaders understand the reach of the pact... then we'll decide what path to follow
Jose Alfredo Saavedra,
Congressional leader

However, the meeting of 13 senior Honduran lawmakers decided not to call a special session of Congress - currently in recess - until they receive opinions from the Supreme Court and the attorney general, officials said.

No deadline was established for a vote on Mr Zelaya's reinstatement.

"The majority voted to send the matter to the Supreme Court, but there were votes against that idea, from those who want to immediately vote on Zelaya's restitution," Congressman Marvin Ponce of the Democratic Unification Party told Reuters.

As well as implementing a power-sharing agreement, the deal requires Mr Zelaya and his political rival, interim leader Roberto Micheletti, to recognise the result of a presidential poll due to take place on 29 November.

Speaking on Monday, Congressional leader Jose Alfredo Saavedra said he would not rush Congress's vote on the accord, despite calls from foreign diplomats not to delay.

"Once congressional leaders understand the reach of the pact, once they understand its dynamics, then we'll decide what path to follow," he told HRN radio.

Supporters of Mr Zelaya have been demonstrating outside the Honduran congressional building, threatening to boycott the election if he is not reinstated immediately.

Forced out

Mr Zelaya was forced out of the country on 28 June. He has been sheltering in the Brazilian embassy in the capital, Tegucigalpa, since making a surprise return to Honduras on 21 September.

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 - a claim he denies.

Analysts say a key detail of the arrangement is that Mr Zelaya comes back to power, so that Honduras's scheduled elections - to decide who will replace him - are deemed valid.

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