Friday, July 17, 2009

Honduran conflict talks to resume in Costa Rica

(Photo: REUTERS/Juan Carlos Ulate)By Noe Leiva (AFP)

Tegucigalpa, Honduras — Representatives of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and the country's de facto government were to hold talks in Costa Rica tomorrow as thousands of Zelaya supporters blocked roads demanding his reinstatement.

With protests in high gear a team representing Zelaya was set to leave for San Jose, where talks were to begin tomorrow mediated by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, the 1987 Nobel peace laureate.

It is the second round of talks after a previous round of meetings was adjourned last week without reaching a breakthrough.

Arias told Costa Rican radio late Thursday that he would propose a "government of national reconciliation" in a bid to resolve the crisis gripping Honduras.

But Honduras interim president Roberto Micheletti quickly rejected the idea.

"We do not accept that any country impose absolutely anything on us," he said in Tegucigalpa. "We have a position and we will remain firm and will not change in any way."

Zelaya said he still held out hope of resolving the crisis, although he reiterated his vow to return home if the talks failed.

Micheletti reimposed a late-night curfew on Thursday in a bid to curb disturbances by Zelaya supporters that have shaken the country following the June 28 military-supported coup.

Micheletti and his entourage have staunchly rejected accusations that removing Zelaya was a coup, and instead accuse the president of defying a Supreme Court ruling and ignoring the constitution.

Earlier this month, Zelaya tried to fly into the capital Tegucigalpa aboard a Venezuelan airplane, but was prevented by military units deployed on the runway. Since then rumors of Zelaya crossing into Honduras by land have swirled.

Zelaya, a wealthy rancher who moved to the left after taking office in January 2006, rattled his country's ruling elite by trying to bypass Congress to hold a referendum on rewriting the constitution.

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