Lanny, the Lying Lobbyist, Takes His Parting Shot — Now, Take Yours
While Lanny Davis never goes away completely, soon we will not have the chance to kick him around anymore on the Honduras issue. If you feel the need to set Lanny straight on anything, consider leaving a comment –after all, this is the Wall Street Journal.
“The US should recognize the coming election, whether Manuel Zelaya does or not.”
–Lanny Davis, what a guy
NOVEMBER 9, 2009 9:38 P.M. ET
By LANNY J. DAVIS
For months Honduras has faced a political crisis. In June, its president, Manuel Zelaya, attempted to subvert the country’s constitution and was removed from office. He has since pushed to return to power, called the current president—Robert Micheletti—illegitimate, and has cast a shadow over presidential elections to be held at the end of this month.
On Oct. 30, it appeared the crisis might come to a close when representatives of Mr. Zelaya signed an agreement with representatives of Mr. Micheletti to create a reconciliation government to oversee the country until the next president is seated (among other provisions). But in recent days, that agreement—known as the Tegucigalpa/San Jose Accord—fell apart.
It’s more accurate to say Mr. Zelaya moved to destroy the accord. It called for him to propose members of the reconciliation government by Nov. 5, and it also gave Honduras’s Congress the right to vote whether to reinstate him as president. But Mr. Zelaya refused to make his appointments, even while Mr. Micheletti proposed his appointments on time. On Friday, Mr. Zelaya declared the accord null and void before Congress could vote on whether to restore him to power. Interestingly, he had insisted on adding the congressional vote to the agreement, so his decision to blow up the process before the vote is an indication that even he realizes he would lose a vote in a Congress controlled by his liberal party.
If there is to be a resolution to this crisis, it will likely only come if the Obama administration (which helped both sides hammer out the accord), leaders in the U.S. Congress, and the Organization of American States (OAS) make sure that Mr. Zelaya does not get away with breaking his word.
One vital part of the accord calls for international monitors to go to Honduras to prepare for the presidential elections, which are scheduled for Nov. 29. Under the accord the monitors will work with the Honduran Supreme Electoral Tribunal, a four-member body appointed by Honduras’s Congress when Mr. Zelaya was in power, and which is independent of the executive branch. The White House and the U.S. Congress need to call for this step to be taken immediately.
Mr. Zelaya’s modus operandi is clear. In 2005, he got elected president while vowing to uphold the constitution. He then violated the country’s constitution by pushing for a vote that would have allowed him to extend his time in office. Honduras’s Constitution specifically states that a president who does that is to be automatically removed, which is why the country’s Supreme Court and Congress supported his removal. Mr. Zelaya’s response was to turn to OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and the OAS to support him in ignoring his constitutional and legal commitments—and they did so.
Mr. Zelaya’s agenda is to reinstall himself to power before the presidential elections. If he succeeds, he might be able to disrupt those elections and create a constitutional crisis by ensuring that no one is credibly elected president. If that occurs, he would likely declare himself president ad infinitum—just what he was trying to do when he was ousted in June.
The bottom line is that a deal is a deal. The U.S. government needs to insist on the implementation of the accord and endorse the results of the Nov. 29 presidential elections as verified by international monitors. Once that happens, Mr. Zelaya will be irrelevant, a footnote as a president who thought he was above the constitution.
And then, on Jan. 27, a new president will be sworn into office in Honduras. That will restore to normalcy the proud little constitutional republic that has always been a loyal and reliable friend of the United States.
Mr. Davis, an attorney at the Washington D.C. office of McDermott, Will & Emery, is a former special counsel to President Bill Clinton and represents the Honduran Latin American Business Council.