Washington based Organization of American States Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza said on Friday that Honduras president –elect Porfirio Lobo is the person “best positioned” to boost the restoration of democratic rule in the Central American country.
During the extraordinary session of the OAS Permanent Council Insulza said that the speed with which such an objective is obtained depends on the “effective will of the new government and specifically on the initiatives adopted” by the Lobo administration.
The OAS top official suggested that Lobo distance himself from the coup leaders. Honduras currently has three “leaders”: ousted Zelaya, de facto Roberto Micheletti and president elect Lobo.
Insulza also said that the recent vote in the Honduran congress contrary to the reinstatement of ousted president Zelaya “was a simple repeat of the June 28th script with the same players”.
According to an agreement brokered by the OAS and Washington, between Zelaya and the de facto rulers, the Honduran Congress had to vote on the reinstatement of the ousted president until the end of his mandate next January 27th, and name a national unity and reconciliation committee.
Therefore the congressional vote and the absence of the committee “have not helped to overcome the democracy and political crisis in Honduras”.
Insulza called for an end to the “persecution of Zelaya” and said that once Lobo is in office human rights must be strictly respected and all political forces should reach a national agreement to ensure the return to democratic rule.
Finally he said that OAS can’t have an opinion “on an election where we had no observers and took place under very special circumstances”.
Meantime contrary to first estimates Honduran election officials revised down the participation rate in the weekend’s controversial vote from more than 60% to 49%.
The US and the European Union hailed the vote as a first step forward out of the five-month crisis, but the elections have split the Americas, with Brazil leading claims that they would whitewash the coup.
The Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE) posted figures of 49% participation after two thirds of votes were counted, down from 62% initially given on Sunday. The tribunal has 30 days to provide final results for the general elections in which 4.6 million Hondurans were eligible to vote.
The impoverished Central American nation remains in limbo, with de facto leader Roberto Micheletti in charge, while Zelaya remains holed up in the Brazilian embassy ever since returning in September and facing threat of arrest.
The 128-member Congress voted 111-14 on Wednesday against bringing Zelaya back to the presidency until his term runs out on January 27, despite pressure from the international community to make a gesture against the coup.
The Latinamerican Parliament, a regional group, sanctioned the Honduran Congress by voting to suspend it on Friday, lawmakers said after a meeting in Panama.
Zelaya supporters, who confronted a heavy-handed military crackdown while attempting to protest the coup, agreed late Thursday to give up their campaign to demand his reinstatement, but said they would still fight for his plan to change the constitution.
Zelaya now appears left with the options of negotiating his release with Lobo, seeking exile or remaining in the embassy. The cowboy-hated deposed leader beat Lobo by a small margin in 2005 elections, which saw 55% participation.
Secretary General Insulza warned at the start of the OAS Permanent Council's meeting that the body was divided on the Honduran elections, adding that recognizing a government as legitimate was a decision each OAS member state must make freely”.
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