Ousted Honduran leader sets deadline

The Associated PressJuly 18, 2009 

— Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya gave U.S.-backed talks in Costa Rica until the end of today to restore him to office, warning he would return to his country with or without an agreement.

Zelaya said he would consider negotiations a failure unless an agreement that restores him to the presidency is reached by midnight.

He did not say what he would do if the talks collapse, but earlier this week he said Hondurans have a constitutional right to launch an insurrection against an illegitimate government. His foreign minister, Patricia Rodas, has said Zelaya would return to Honduras to install a parallel government if negotiations fail.

"Tomorrow at midnight is the deadline for the rebel government to abide by the resolutions of the U.N. and the OAS to restore me to power," Zelaya said Friday at a news conference at the Honduran Embassy in Nicaragua, referring to demands by the United Nations and the Organization of American States that he be restored to the presidency. "If at that time, there is no resolution to that end, I will consider the negotiations in Costa Rica a failure."

Zelaya, who was forced into exile in a June 28 military coup, said he would return to Honduras in secret if no agreement is reached. The interim government thwarted his last attempt to fly back home by sending military vehicles to block the runway.

"I am going back to Honduras, but I am not going to give you the date, hour or place, or say if I'm going to enter through land, air or sea," Zelaya said.

Zelaya also rejected the idea of a power-sharing government, a proposal that Costa Rican President Oscar Arias indicated would dominate talks today.

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