Ousted Honduran Pres, Pres-Elect to Meet?

Supporters of Honduras' ousted President Manuel Zelaya wave a flag with his image as they protest in Tegucigalpa, Friday, Dec. 11, 2009. Zelaya was ousted from power in June. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
AP Photo/Esteban Felix
The leader of the Dominican Republic said Friday that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya will meet with his elected successor next week in his Caribbean nation.

There was no indication, however, that a deal for allowing such a meeting had been reached with the interim government that replaced Zelaya after a coup June 28.

Dominican President Leonel Fernandez told reporters he expected Zelaya and President-elect Porfirio Lobo to meet Monday in Santo Domingo to talk about ways for resolving the political crisis that has gripped Honduras since Zelaya was deposed.

"As of Sunday and Monday, we will have both figures of the Honduran political world in the Dominican Republic," Fernandez said, adding that Zelaya would arrive on Sunday and Lobo on Monday morning.

Fernandez told reporters he expected to meet with both men separately and then bring them together for discussions.

But in Honduras' capital, information minister Rene Zepeda said the interim government had not received a petition from Zelaya or from officials in the Dominican Republic asking that Zelaya be granted safe passage to leave the country.

Honduran officials and Zelaya have been at odds this week on terms of a deal that would let him emerge from the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa without fear of arrest on the charges of treason and abuse of power that led to his ouster. He has taken refuge in the embassy since sneaking back into Honduras on Sept. 21.

The government insists he must concede he is no longer president, although his term runs to Jan. 27. Zelaya says he won't do that.

Zelaya also did not confirm that a meeting is set with Lobo.

He told The Associated Press only that he was grateful to Fernandez for seeking to arrange a meeting.

"We are thankful for President Fernandez's gesture because it shows his intention to solve the Honduran crisis in an effort to benefit Central America. We are analyzing his proposal and we are in communication with President Fernandez," Zelaya said.

There was no immediate comment from Lobo, who won the Nov. 29 presidential election that Honduras had scheduled before Zelaya was removed from office and sent out of the country at gunpoint.

Lobo, who says he wants to start a national reconciliation process once he takes office, said earlier this week that he supports granting amnesty both to Zelaya and to all of those involved in the coup.

His options are limited, though. Even after he become president he won't have the power to give Zelaya amnesty from prosecution. That power belongs to the same Congress that voted 111-14 early month against restoring Zelaya to office to serve out his term.

Before Fernandez's announcement, Zelaya said he would leave the Brazilian Embassy by the end of his presidential term Jan. 27.

Zelaya said in the telephone interview with Globo TV that he wanted to leave soon but did not say where he might go. Mexico's government sought this week to negotiate safe passage for him, but that effort stalled in the dispute over whether Zelaya would agree to leave Honduras as an ordinary citizen and not the president.

Francisco Catundo, the top-ranking Brazilian official at the embassy, told Globo TV that Zelaya must leave by Jan. 27. But later in the day, Marco Aurelio Garcia, chief international adviser to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, said there is no time limit.

"There is no problem with (Zelaya staying) at the Brazilian Embassy," Garcia told reporters in Peru, where Silva was making an official visit.