TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Honduras' interim government announced Sunday that it was canceling a visit by foreign delegates aimed at resolving the country's political crisis because it could not accept the participation of a regional official who insists on reinstating the ousted president.
Interim President Roberto Micheletti is willing to reschedule the delegation's visit, previously planned for Tuesday — as long as Organization of American States chief Jose Miguel Insulza is excluded, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The Washington-based OAS, a long-established hemispheric body promoting democracy, development and legal cooperation in the Americas, on Friday named the delegation comprising foreign ministers from Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
The group's mission was to try to persuade Micheletti to negotiate with international mediators seeking to return President Manuel Zelaya, who was ousted in a coup on June 28.
But in addition to insisting that he accompany the delegation, Insulza failed to include foreign ministers who might be open to "reconsidering our position," the statement said, which "has made it impossible to hold the visit" now.
From the beginning, Insulza and the OAS as a whole have harshly condemned the coup and said that any solution to the crisis must include Zelaya's restoration to office. The organization later voted to suspend Honduras from its ranks. The interim government, however, had already said it would quit the organization rather than meet its demands.
The United States, which also condemned the coup, enlisted Nobel Peace Prize laureate Oscar Arias, now Costa Rica's president, to broker a solution. Those talks fell apart when Micheletti again refused to reinstate Zelaya.
The foreign delegation scheduled to arrive Tuesday was to represent a "continuation of Oscar Arias' work," Insulza said last week.
Micheletti's government "is completely willing to consider a new date for the mission of foreign ministers ... excluding Mr. Insulza, who could be replaced by other OAS officials," the Foreign Ministry's statement said.
The statement referred to what it called Insulza's "lack of objectivity, impartiality, and professionalism ... which has resulted in serious damage to democracy, to Honduras" and to the OAS. Neither Insulza nor the OAS immediately commented.
Despite the suspension of millions of dollars of U.S. aid and the threat of more sanctions, interim leaders have made clear they expect to hold out until the Nov. 29 elections. Coup backers hope the election will calm international demands to restore Zelaya, whose term ends Jan. 27.
Soldiers arrested Zelaya and flew him into exile in Costa Rica after he ignored a Supreme Court order to cancel a referendum asking Hondurans if they wanted a special assembly to rewrite the constitution.
Zelaya is constitutionally barred from seeking re-election. Opponents say his real motive for the referendum was to abolish term limits so he could run again. Zelay denies that was his intention.
Micheletti, the courts and the military generals all insist no coup occurred because Zelaya was arrested on orders of the Supreme Court and replaced by an act of Congress.
The interim government acknowledges that sending Zelaya into exile wasn't legal, though it says that was necessary for his security and to prevent unrest. But it says everything else it did was according to the Honduran constitution.