Lanny Davis Presents “Caretaker” Prez Idea with Zelaya Renouncing Presidency
From early on it was obvious that this is how the golpistas want to play the game. Now that they are within sight of this scenario, they send Lanny out to share it with us as “a new solution for Honduras.” It’s not “new” and the National Resistance will let the golpistas know it’s not a “solution.”
By LANNY J. DAVIS
This past July, the United States, the Organization of American States, and the European Union came together to persuade the divided forces of Honduras to reach a solution on the controversy over the removal of former President Manuel Zelaya. The mediation process was led by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias and was encouraged by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
But that process, dubbed the “San Jose Accord” by Mr. Arias, did not result in any accord at all. One view, supported by the U.S., the OAS, and the EU—as well as Mr. Zelaya and his supporters—is that Mr. Zelaya was illegally ousted without a fair trial. According to this camp, the only solution is to restore him to the presidency.
The opposing view—held by most leaders of Honduras’s civil society, the four major presidential candidates, the Catholic Church, and virtually all institutions of the civil government—is that Mr. Zelaya had acted illegally when he attempted to extend his term by referendum. Thus his removal from office as a result of a unanimous Supreme Court decision and an overwhelming vote by Congress was entirely justified.
What’s made the situation even more intractable is that the U.S., the OAS and the EU have strongly suggested that they will not recognize the results of the upcoming Nov. 29 presidential elections. They took this position without taking into account that the electoral process is supervised, pursuant to the Honduran constitution, by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal. The tribunal is thoroughly independent of the executive branch led by Roberto Micheletti.
These policy decisions have produced an ironic and embarrassing scenario: The U.S. is apparently unwilling to recognize free and fair elections in Honduras with international observers; this at the same time it is about to recognize the president of Afghanistan, who was elected in what is now seen as a fraudulent electoral process.
So, what to do?
In the last several days, a Plan B has emerged. Credible supporters of Mr. Zelaya have been meeting with the four major Honduran presidential candidates, representatives of the Micheletti interim government, and other members of civil society.
The talks have been described by those in the room as the “Guaymuras Dialogue,” in reference to the pre-Columbus indigenous name for the country. Under discussion are certain provisions of the San Jose Accord, such as the need for a moratorium on all prosecutions of political crimes, which was interpreted to apply both to accusations against Mr. Zelaya and those responsible for deporting him.
A successful resolution to the Guaymuras Dialogue should ensure: the resignation, after the election, of Mr. Micheletti and renunciation by Mr. Zelaya of his intention to be restored as president; the succession, as provided by the constitution, of a caretaker president between election day and inauguration day; a conciliation government representing all segments of civil society; and most importantly, binding commitments to a series of constitutional and economic reforms aimed at more equitable distribution of wealth.
For Mr. Zelaya, agreeing to renounce his claim to be restored as president under these circumstances should not be a great sacrifice since the constitution bars him from seeking a second term. Even if he is restored to power, after Nov. 29 he would be a lame duck president for less than two months until the inauguration of the new president on Jan. 26, 2010. If they get their way in current discussion, his supporters will have won important legal, social and economic reforms.
Mr. Zelaya could also claim he never ceased being president, so he is “resigning.” The constitutional authorities in Honduras will call it a renunciation, as he is no longer president in their view. And they can be relieved that he is finally gone and cannot undermine the legitimacy of the coming presidential elections. That’s a good diplomatic compromise for both sides.
But given reports from yesterday’s discussions of continued intransigence by both parties, this seems overly optimistic. If Mr. Zelaya refuses to “resign” or renounce his intention to be restored, which is a distinct possibility, one would hope that the U.S. and other nations of the OAS and EU would no longer feel compelled to insist on his reinstatement. They should then recognize the election of the new president, and the crisis would truly be over. Honduras would be restored to its rightful role as a stable constitutional republic and loyal ally of the U.S.
—Mr. Davis, a Washington attorney, represents the Honduran branch of the Latin American Business Council. He served as special counsel to President Bill Clinton from 1996-98, and served on President George Bush’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Board from 2005-06.”