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Talks to resume in Honduran political crisis

Ousted leader says people have right to an insurrection

School and university teachers marched in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, during a demonstration yesterday demanding the restitution of ousted President Manuel Zelaya. School and university teachers marched in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, during a demonstration yesterday demanding the restitution of ousted President Manuel Zelaya. (Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images)
By Freddy Cuevas
Associated Press / July 15, 2009
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GUATEMALA CITY - Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya says the Honduran people “have the right to insurrection’’ against the interim government that forced him out of the country.

Zelaya says that Honduran citizens also have the right to demonstrate and to stage strikes against the government of de facto President Roberto Micheletti, who has threatened to jail Zelaya if he tries to return.

Zelaya said at a joint news conference with Guatemalan President Alvaro Colom yesterday that ”nobody owes allegiance to a usurper government.”

Zelaya, who was toppled by a military-backed coup June 28, said ”insurrection is a legitimate process.”

Also yesterday, the chief mediator in talks to end Honduras’s political crisis called both sides back to the table.

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias said talks will resume Saturday after two rounds of earlier negotiations failed to produce a breakthrough in the standoff over who is the legitimate leader of Honduras.

Arias also urged Zelaya to “be patient.’’

“I understand the desire of President Zelaya to return and reinstate himself as president of Hondurans as soon as possible, but my experience tells me that one has to be a little patient,’’ said Arias, who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in ending Central America’s wars. “It’s not easy to get results in 24 hours.’’

Arias said he would meet with delegates from both sides to work out logistics before Saturday.

Zelaya, who is recognized by virtually all foreign governments, is clearly frustrated by the slow movement of negotiations.

“We are giving the coup regime an ultimatum,’’ Zelaya said Monday at a news conference in Nicaragua.

If the interim government does not agree to reinstate him at the next round of negotiations, “the mediation effort will be considered failed and other measures will be taken,’’ he said. He did not say what those measures would be.

At the swearing-in ceremony for a new foreign minister Monday, Micheletti said his delegates are “ready for another meeting.’’

Micheletti’s administration has insisted that Zelaya was ousted legally and has refused to bend on reinstating him.

The interim government has been trying to restore life to normal this week in the impoverished Central American nation by lifting a nighttime curfew in place since the coup and successfully urging tens of thousands of Honduran teachers and students to return to class.

Zelaya accused Micheletti’s government of using the talks “as a means to distract attention’’ from repression in Honduras, where protests for and against Zelaya’s return have filled the streets, though they have waned in recent days.

Members of Micheletti’s administration did not immediately respond to Zelaya’s comments.

The coup has drawn international condemnation, and nations, including the United States, have asked that Zelaya be reinstated.

Honduras’s Supreme Court, Congress, and military say they legally removed Zelaya for violating the constitution. They accuse him of trying to extend his time in office. Zelaya denies that, saying he merely wanted to reform the constitution to make it better serve the poor.

Zelaya and Micheletti, the congressional president who was sworn in to serve out the final six months of Zelaya’s term, met separately with Arias last week but refused to talk face to face.