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Standoff over Zelaya's return continues as negotiations stall

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Another day, another proposal rejected in the negotiations between representatives of ousted President Manuel Zelaya and interim President Roberto Micheletti.

The renewed talks all but broke down Monday.

In responding to a bid last week from the Zelaya camp for Congress to decide whether the deposed leader will finish his term of office, Micheletti´s negotiators proposed that they decide Zelaya´s fate after seeking official opinions from Congress and the Supreme Court. Zelaya´s negotiators soundly rejected that offer in fewer than two hours.

“That proposal is insulting,” said Víctor Meza, Zelaya´s top negotiator.

Meza said Zelaya´s team had no counterproposal and instead demanded the interim government make a better offer than the previous two. Micheletti negotiators had previously offered to let the same Supreme Court that ordered Zelaya´s arrest on June 28 decide whether he should return to power.

Meza said both proposals were “offensive.”

“The dialogue isn´t broken, but it´s being obstructed,” he said.

Before Meza issued his response, Micheletti negotiator Vilma Morales stressed the need to take all the time that´s needed in negotiations to reach a solution. She said she opposed Zelaya´s attempts to exert pressure and set deadlines for negotiations.

Zelaya temporarily suspended talks in reaction to Micheletti´s first proposal before they resumed Monday. On numerous occasions he has set and subsequently pushed back deadlines for an agreement to be reached before his team will pull out of talks.

“Deadlines don´t work with dialogue,” Morales said.

Armando Aguilar, another Micheletti negotiator, said Monday´s offer is the best compromise between the two original proposals.

“They didn´t accept our proposal, we didn´t accept theirs,” Aguilar said. “So the third option is to put the decision back under the control of this commission.”

Meza accused Micheletti of using the negotiations as a political instrument to win time as the countdown to the Nov. 29 presidential election continues.

Both commissions say they´re in agreement on every issue between them except Zelaya´s return to power. Zelaya already said he will give up his campaign for a constitutional assembly to rewrite the 1982 constitution, which critics saw as an attempt to abolish presidential term limits.

“Mr. Zelaya conceded all he could to help dialogue,” Meza said.

Read the Oct. 23 Nica Times for more on this story.

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