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September 4, 09

NEWS / United States Terminates Millions of Dollars in Aid to Honduras


By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
Staff Writer

Washington — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has terminated millions of dollars in nonhumanitarian assistance to Honduras over the ouster of Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

“The secretary of state has made the decision, consistent with U.S. legislation, recognizing the need for strong measures in light of the continued resistance to the adoption of the San Jose Accord by the de facto regime and continuing failure to restore democratic, constitutional rule to Honduras,” State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said in a prepared statement September 3.

The San Jose Accord is a peace plan proposed by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias that would end the de facto regime that seized power June 28, reinstall Zelaya with limited powers until his term of office ends and move up a presidential election to October.

“Restoration of the terminated assistance will be predicated upon a return to democratic, constitutional governance in Honduras,” Kelly said.

Clinton held an hourlong consultation with Zelaya in Washington September 3 before the termination of funding was announced. Kelly also announced that the United States has identified individual members and supporters of the de facto regime and their visas are being revoked.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said at the daily press briefing that “today’s … action sends a clear message to the de facto regime that the status quo is unacceptable and that their strategy, to try to run out the clock on President Zelaya’s term of office … is unacceptable. And the time has come for all the parties to sign the San Jose accords.”

Zelaya, who was elected in 2006, was ousted June 28 and flown by the Honduran military to Costa Rica. The United States had previously suspended $18 million in nonhumanitarian aid to Honduras until the mediation process is completed and there is a resolution of the critical issues.

In addition to the $18 million that has been terminated by Clinton, another $11 million in funding from the U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation is subject to being terminated, Crowley said, when the MCC board meets next week.

The MCC, a U.S. government agency that gives funds to developing economies that demonstrate a commitment to democratic performance, signed a five-year, $215 million compact with Honduras on June 13, 2005.

SAN JOSE ACCORD

Clinton has said that implementing the peace plan offered by Arias, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, is the best choice in the current constitutional crisis.

Under the terms of the San Jose Accord, Zelaya would be reinstated for the remainder of his term of office, which ends in January 2010, with limited powers; a general amnesty would be issued for crimes before and after June 28 when Zelaya was ousted; a government of national unity and conciliation would be created; international economic sanctions would be lifted; general elections would be advanced one month to October; and the Honduran armed forces would be placed under the authority of the national electoral commission one month before the elections. The presidential and legislative elections now are scheduled for November 29.

Kelly said a presidential election must be undertaken in a free, fair and transparent manner, but that is now in doubt.

“It must also be free of taint and open to all Hondurans to exercise their democratic franchise. At this moment, we would not be able to support the outcome of the scheduled elections,” Kelly said. “A positive conclusion of the Arias process would provide a sound basis for legitimate elections to proceed.”

The interim head of the de facto Honduran government, Roberto Micheletti, has said he will not be pressured into accepting the San Jose Accord, or to step down from the government. And Micheletti has rejected calls to return Zelaya to power, even if only for a few months.

A delegation from the Organization of American States traveled to Honduras for two days of talks during the week of August 23 in an attempt to convince the de facto government to accept the accord proposed by Arias. That offer was rejected. On September 1, Zelaya met with OAS Secretary-General José Miguel Insulza and participated in a private meeting with the OAS Permanent Council.

In a prepared statement, Insulza said, “All members of the council, either with their own voice or through the coordinators of the regional groups, showed their continuous and full support to President Zelaya as the president of Honduras.”

The United Nations, the OAS and the international community have urged acceptance of the accord.

The United States, which is a member of the OAS, voted with the rest of the organization 33–0 on July 4 to suspend Honduras from the organization. The OAS action was taken to isolate the country’s interim regime in an effort to restore legal order.

http://www.america.gov/st/peacesec-english/2009/September/20090903154844dmslahrellek0.5205042.html?CP.rss=true

Tags: secretary of state, corporation,
 




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