Coup leader willing to hold early election

Honduras tries to fend off sanctions but rejects calls to re-instate ousted President

The self-declared leaders of Honduras showed signs of softening yesterday, indicating a willingness to bring presidential elections forward or even hold a plebiscite on re-instating the man they ousted last weekend.

First murmurs of possible compromise emerged from Tegucigalpa just hours before the scheduled arrival of the head of the Organisation of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, who had given the coup leaders until today to reverse course or face sanctions.

Before the visit, Mr Insulza said he was not prepared to negotiate or meet with the interim government headed by Robert Micheletti, who has been declared president. "I cannot say I am confident," he said. "I will do everything I can but I think it is very hard."

There had been plans for President Manuel Zelaya to return to the capital this weekend, but Mr Micheletti flatly stated that he would be arrested should he set foot in Honduras.

Mr Zelaya came to power in 2006 as the leader of the centrist Liberals but he subsequently allied himself with President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and tacked leftwards. Already at odds with the country's business elite, he then began moves to change the constitution to allow him to run for a second term. Congress and the courts supported his removal from the presidential palace at gunpoint on Sunday.

But the overthrow of Mr Zelaya has triggered unusual unity in the hemisphere. Even the US and Venezuela have united to demand his re-instatement. Honduras has seen ambassadors withdrawn and trade barriers thrown up against it. The streets of the capital have been the scene of clashes between supporters of the coup and Zelaya loyalists and there were fears last night of fresh violence.

Mr Insulza said: "We hope the coup leaders recognise the damage they are doing to the country and the world and allow the return of President Zelaya."

Asked about bringing forward elections planned for November, Mr Micheletti said he would have "no objection if it would be a way of resolving these problems".

He did not rule out a referendum on restoring Mr Zelaya to power either but said it would be hard to organise. There was little change in tone, however, when it came to Mr Zelaya personally. "For the peace and calm of the country I would prefer he does not come in," Mr Micheletti told Honduran radio. "I do not want even one drop of blood spilled in this country."

The country itself seems split on the issue. Before his rude awakening and involuntary dispatch to Costa Rica on Sunday, Mr Zelaya had not only earned the wrath of the other main institutions of government but had also seen his approval rating among voters slump to 30 per cent or less. Mr Chavez moved to lower the temperature of the crisis after indicating earlier this week that he was prepared to invade Honduras after his ambassador was briefly detained.

He indicated instead that he was talking about ending the standoff with contacts in Honduras and outside it. "We are in contact with people inside and in various parts of the world," Mr Chavez said. "Of course, one wants to do more but that country has its sovereignty and we have to respect it."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Internal Sales Executive

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Finance / Accounts Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established and expanding ...

Recruitment Genius: Bench Locksmith / Engineer / Technician

£14000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading Key Cutting equipm...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss