By: Ira Seligman, Senior Associate
More than four months ago, the Honduran Congress decided to forcefully oust its President, Manuel Zelaya. The first military coup in decades has lead to political unrest in the region and a number of regional powers are making efforts to restore democracy to Honduras. Despite months of negotiation with de facto leader, Roberto Micheletti, no deal had materialized. Recently, however, the United States has become more involved by urging that a deal be completed. A number of senior State Department officials, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, were reported to have taken a firm stance on the situation in talks with Micheletti. Subsequently, Obama administration officials believed that they had struck a deal with Micheletti to restore Zelaya. The agreement would establish a coalition government that would be in power until the Honduran Congress decides whether or not to restore Zelaya as President. If so, Zelaya would finish the remaining three months of his term and presidential elections scheduled for November 29th would proceed as planned.
In the weeks following this agreement, however, a number of roadblocks have emerged. Specifically, there are serious doubts as to whether the Congress will approve the terms of the agreement. Just a week after the deal was struck, the Honduran Congress stated that they would delay a vote on Zelaya’s reinstatement until after the presidential elections. This decision prompted Zelaya’s refusal to contribute names to any coalition government. Moreover, in a stark break from its prior policy and that of its allies, the State Department declared that it would recognize the results of the election even if Zelaya were not reinstated. This prompted sharp criticism domestically by a number of high ranking Congressmen, including John Kerry. At this point the agreement is very tenuous, but it appears that Honduran presidential elections will be held as scheduled.