San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Honduras' presidential campaigns start marred by crisis

Campaigning for Honduras´ Nov. 29 presidential election is set to begin this week amid high tensions as domestic and international pressure continues to build in the Central American country, two months after the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya.

Elvin Santos and Porfirio Lobo are launching campaigns for their respective parties, the Liberal Party of Honduras and the National Party of Honduras. Despite being marred by one of the region´s worst political crises in decades, the politicians said they will set forth on their campaigns with optimism.

Lobo said Sunday his government would consist of an “integration of ample participation so that all of us together can make the changes necessary to build a future with hope,” newswire EFE reported.

Santos pledged to create employment and improve participation of municipal governments to spur development in the country, one of the Americas´ poorest.

Followers of Zelaya – who was elected in 2005 on the Liberal Party ticket – consider both candidates to be coup sympathizers.

The United States raised the pressure Thursday, threatening to characterize Zelaya´s ouster as a coup d´etat, which effectively would suspend millions in development aid to Honduras, the Associated Press reported.

The move came after the different branches of the Honduran government rejected a Costa Rica-brokered plan for reconciliation, which gained international backing after tense negotiations in President Oscar Arias´ living room. The proposed San José Agreement calls for a return of Zelaya to the presidency and amnesty for alleged political crimes committed – by Zelaya or the de facto government.

Roberto Micheletti, Honduras´ de facto president, last week sent a communiqué to Arias proposing alternatives to the Costa Rican Nobel Peace Prize laureate´s plan, reported Honduras´ Radio América. Although details of the document were not immediately available, Micheletti has said restoring Zelaya´s presidency is unacceptable, that the exiled leader should sit on trial if he returns and that Honduras should go ahead with elections slated for November.

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