Saturday, October 31, 2009

Presidential Deal Struck in Honduras

The four-month political crisis in Honduras seems to be over as the two sides - deposed President Manuel Zelaya and acting President Roberto Micheletti - struck a deal to allow Zelaya to apply to return to his former office and for the already scheduled presidential elections to go forward on November 29.

Honduras was plunged into political chaos when the military grabbed the sleeping Zelaya in the middle of the night and dropped him off in neighboring Costa Rica. The reason? Zelaya was apparently illegally trying to change the Honduran constitution through a referendum so that he could run for a second term as president, even after being ordered by both the Honduran Legislature and Supreme Court not to do so (more on this in a moment). The United States and the Organization of American States both pushed for Zelaya's return. And while this whole crisis could have resolved itself next month with the scheduled elections, the United States was threatening to not recognize the results of those elections unless Zelaya was first returned to office.

The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, never one to pass up a shot at the Obama Administration, is painting this as a victory for the pro-Micheletti side and a defeat for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. But the WSJ does have something of a point, while this is being declared a victory for Zelaya, the agreement only says that he can apply to get his presidential job back. Since the Legislature ruled against him twice over his proposed referendum and supported his ouster, it's hard to think they'll restore him to the presidency. And besides, he only has three months left in his term anyway, the Legislature could easily drag his hearing out that long, meaning he'll likely never actually return to his job.

Speaking of the legality of his removal: Sen. John Kerry and Rep. Howard Berman are demanding that the Law Library of Congress retract an analysis that backed up the Honduran military's removal of Zelaya for violating their constitution as legal. In July, Octavio Sánchez, a former presidential advisor in Honduras also argued that the military acted properly to uphold the rule of law. The Library of Congress is quite upset at Kerry and Berman since they feel the lawmakers' demand could compromise the Library's image as a non-partisan organization.

The Library of Congress is a pretty serious body. Somehow I have more faith in their ability to correctly analyze the situation in Honduras than I do in a couple of Congressmen.
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