Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Manuel Zelaya's backers: Boycott Honduran election

Manuel Zelaya's backers: Boycott Honduran election - 5-Minute Herald - MiamiHerald.com

A U.S. brokered accord that was supposed to return ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to power has collapsed. And his supporters, who have been organizing street protests against his successor, are down to their final card: calling on Hondurans to boycott upcoming elections.
Carlos H. Reyes, the presidential candidate who was favored by the leftist Zelaya's hard-core supporters but had no chance to win, withdrew from the race Monday. ``For us to participate in the elections would mean following the strategy of the coup-installed government,'' Reyes said.
Zelaya pinned much of the blame Monday on the Obama administration.
The U.S. State Department helped broker a deal that called for the Honduran Congress to vote on whether to allow Zelaya to finish his term. But once Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon made televised comments last week that seemed to remove pressure from Washington, Honduras' Congress has made no plans to vote on whether to enact the agreement.

Shannon said last week that the deal meant that the Obama administration would accept the outcome of the Nov. 29 presidential and congressional elections, regardless of whether Zelaya was back in power.
Analysts said Monday that Shannon's statement Wednesday undercut most of Zelaya's leverage, gave Congress a good reason to dodge a tough vote and strengthened the resolve of de facto President Roberto Micheletti to remain in power.
``The United States is no longer interested in punishing a coup-installed government,'' Honduran congresswoman Elvia Valle said by telephone from Tegucigalpa Monday. Shannon's declarations ``have left a bitter taste in our mouths.''
Micheletti is moving forward with plans to organize the upcoming elections, which both sides had hoped would propel Honduras past a political crisis that exploded when soldiers hustled Zelaya out of the country on June 28, and the Congress immediately voted to name Micheletti as his replacement.
A Micheletti spokeswoman on Monday called on Congress to vote on the agreement.
Zelaya, holed up in the Brazilian Embassy, is running out of options, said Orlando Pérez, a political science professor at Central Michigan University who follows Honduras.
``At the end of the day, it seems like the coup will stand,'' Pérez said from Michigan. ``It is an ominous sign for democratic governments and elected leaders in the region.''
The Obama administration and foreign governments throughout Latin America called for Zelaya's return to power. The Obama administration also cut $30 million in aid to Honduras and revoked U.S. travel visas held by Micheletti and his powerful supporters.
Zelaya's ouster and the political machinations have thrust Honduras -- a small Central American nation that looks to the U.S. for political and economic support -- into the news for months.
Zelaya and many analysts inside and outside Honduras hailed the Oct. 30 agreement between him and Micheletti, although it actually left his return to power up to the country's Congress.
Micheletti reiterated his accusation Monday that Zelaya broke the agreement late last week by failing to offer a list of candidates for senior positions in the ``unity'' government called for under the deal.
Zelaya said Sunday that he didn't put forth his candidates because the agreement called for him to oversee the unity government.
Calling the agreement ``a failure,'' he added, ``The de facto president who carried out a coup is going to direct the Cabinet? This is reconciliation?''
Pérez said he thought the Obama administration decided it had no option but to recognize the election result after concluding that Honduras' political, military and economic elite wouldn't accept Zelaya's return.
The deposed president had been on the outs with the elite since he shifted midterm to become a free-spending leftist allied with Venezuela's socialist President Hugo Chávez. Zelaya said he would like to extend his stay in office, as Chávez has done.
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., also is taking credit for the U.S. support for the election after receiving private assurances from Shannon and Clinton. DeMint said last week that Shannon and Clinton both had assured him that the Obama administration would accept Honduras' winner, even if Zelaya weren't president.
As a result, DeMint released his hold blocking Shannon from becoming ambassador to Brazil and another on Arturo Valenzuela to replace Shannon as the top diplomat for Latin America. However, Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla., then put on a new hold on Shannon.
Shannon made his comments last week to CNN en Español. State Department spokesman Charles Luoma Overstreet in an e-mail to McClatchy questioned the widespread interpretation of what Shannon said and sent a transcript of the interview that left out the relevant quotes. The actual transcript shows Shannon twice confirming that the U.S. would respect the outcome of the elections no matter whether Zelaya were restored.
A senior State Department official declined to discuss Shannon's statements Monday, saying instead, ``What we're trying to do is get the parties to follow the accord. . . If the accord is not implemented fully, that will affect international perceptions.''