Honduran rulers insist Zelaya cannot be president
The de facto Honduran government insisted on Thursday it would not allow ousted President Manuel Zelaya to return to office, dampening hopes of a deal to end a political crisis after a coup last month, Reuters reported.
Rafael Pineda, who as minister of the presidency is No. 2 in the interim government headed by Roberto Micheletti, told Reuters the administration was "firm, unchangeable" against Zelaya's return to power.
Micheletti, named by Congress as president after Zelaya was ousted in a coup on June 28, has asked for a special envoy to come to Honduras "to cooperate in the start of dialogue in our country."
The coup leaders are under pressure from the United States to reinstate Zelaya and a source close to the de facto government said Micheletti might be willing to consider letting Zelaya come back if there were assurances the ousted president did not try to derail democracy.
Pineda rejected a return to office for Zelaya, who upset conservative critics by allying with socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
"The position of the government in this issue is firm, unchangeable," Pineda told Reuters. "The agreement, if there has to be one, can only happen if President Zelaya is not reinstated in the presidency of the republic."
Pineda told Honduran television that the de facto government was committed to dialogue but also ready to hold out until a presidential election, which is set for November, if talks do not produce a deal.
He said Micheletti could quit as part of an accord that Costa Rican President Oscar Arias is trying to broker.
"President Micheletti has said that to avoid the shedding of Honduran blood ... he would be willing to stand down but only on condition that his standing down does not mean Zelaya's return to the presidency," he said.
Washington this week revoked diplomatic visas for four members of Micheletti's administration to pressure it to reverse the coup, which has also been condemned by Latin American governments and the U.N. General Assembly.