As you know, beginning last Wednesday, Honduras has been involved in a robust internal dialogue to try to find a solution to the political crisis impacting the country. The talks have been baptized as the “Guaymuras Dialogue.” Negotiators representing the government of President Roberto Micheletti and former president Manuel Zelaya, have been meeting behind closed doors for over a week at a hotel in Tegucigalpa.
The progress of the negotiations has been positive surprising even the negotiators themselves. After yesterday’s session, spokesmen for both sides asserted that the negotiators had reached agreement on 90% of the issues on the table. According to media reports, the issues agreed upon so far may include:
- The formation of a national unity government composed of persons from all 5 major political parties;
- No amnesty for any persons involved in the events of June 28th when former president Zelaya was constitutionally removed from power;
- Former president Zelaya agrees not to pursue a constitutional assembly to modify the country’s Constitution;
- Recognition for the November 29th presidential elections and whoever is declared president-elect;
- Transfer of authority over the armed forces to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal in late October (the armed forces historically play an important role in the Honduran elections).
Today, the negotiations are focused on probably the most controversial issue on the table- what to do about potential restitution of Mr. Zelaya to the post of President from which he was legally removed. It is interesting to note that yesterday, in a media interview, Mr. Zelaya for the first time hinted at not returning to power. The other option which appears to be on the table is the resignation of President Micheletti after the November 29th elections. He would be replaced by a third person, neither him nor Mr. Zelaya, who will lead a transitional, caretaker government until the president-elect takes power on January 28, 2010.
Another interesting development in the negotiations has been the visible division inside the Zelaya team. Yesterday, Juan Barahona, a labor union leader and populist political activist, resigned as one of the negotiators for Mr. Zelaya. His public reason for doing so was his disagreement with Mr. Zelaya renouncing his intent to pursue a Constitutional Assembly. Mr. Barahona was replaced in the negotiating team by a prominent businessman and jurist. Asked yesterday about Mr. Barahona’s resignation, the Zelaya negotiating team spokesperson said that Mr. Barahona’s removal was necessary because this was a negotiation between two, not three parties, making evident the internal divisions.
At this stage of the internal dialogue, it is critically important for the United States and the rest of the international community to support the internal efforts taking place in Honduras to resolve this political conflict. As of today, no other effort to try to resolve this issue has gotten so much traction and it should be encouraged.