President Arias will mediate Honduran standoff in Costa Rica

July 3, 2009

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias is hoping that the crisis that´s gripped Honduras since its head of state was taken from his home a week ago will be resolved in his living room in western San José.

Ousted President Manuel Zelaya and his de facto replacement Roberto Micheletti will be arriving in Costa Rica this week to begin the mediation process.

With the backing of Washington and the Hondurans´ willing participation, the conflict could be resolved as soon as this Friday, said Arias.

“How long will it take exactly? I don´t know,” he said at a press conference in his home on Tuesday. “The situation is not easy…but we will not leave until we have a solution.”

Arias, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient who helped stitch together the region during conflicts in the 1980s, said several times that he is pleased to be playing a role in this process.

“We are looking for a way to turn the page and leave this situation behind us,” he said.

Honduras has been in a heightened state of unrest since Zelaya was marched out of his home by soldiers early Sunday morning on June 25.

He tried to return a week later, but military vehicles blocked the runway at the Tegucigalpa airport and turned him away.

Micheletti, president of congress, assumed Zelaya´s responsibilities, accusing him of violating the Constitution by seeking to run for re-election – which, under Article 239 – results in his automatic removal from office.

Zelaya, who has only a little more than three months remaining in his term, has since been on a tour of Central America and the U.S., soliciting help from neighboring countries in his effort to return to the Honduran presidency.

For Carlos Denton, president of the San José-based polling and research firm CID-Gallup, who has had a team on the ground in Honduras, the conflict is a boiling pot of water that could spill over at any moment.

“The teachers have gone on strike, the airport is closed, they are operating in a state of siege,” he said on Monday. “How long can they keep this up?”

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