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Honduran interim leader urges nation to vote

RIA Novosti

06:31 02/09/2009 MOSCOW, September 2 (RIA Novosti) - Presidential elections in Honduras are "the only solution" to the current political crisis, the country's interim leader Roberto Micheletti said in a televised address on Wednesday, urging the nation to vote.

Presidential campaign began in the Central American state on Monday. Many Latin American states said they would not recognize the outcome of elections until ousted President Manuel Zelaya returns to power.

The elections will demonstrate that the country "appreciates democracy" and that its people are willing "to live in harmony," Micheletti said in his speech.

Zelaya, who has arrived again in the U.S. to hold meetings at the Organization of American States (OAS), told reporters in Washington that the elections would be seen as "fraud" by the international community.

The Honduran military arrested Zelaya on June 28, the day polls were due to open for a nonbinding referendum on extending the non-renewable, four-year presidential term of office, and flew him to Costa Rica. The de facto Honduran government has not been recognized by the international community.

Last week, a delegation of the OAS had failed to persuade Micheletti to accept a 12-point plan devised by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias to resolve the political standoff in Hinduras. Under the plan, Zelaya would return to his post, while Micheletti would return to his pre-coup post of parliamentary speaker.

The plan, known as the San Jose Accord, also offers a full amnesty for those who ousted the president, and suggests holding presidential elections in the country one month earlier than scheduled.

Micheletti refused to accept the proposal and told the OAS officials that presidential elections would be held in Honduras as scheduled, even if they are not internationally recognized.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said it was "hard to imagine" that Zelaya would be restored to power.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has temporarily stopped issuing entry visas for Honduran citizens and threatened to suspend a $215-mln economic aid program to help Honduras fight poverty. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet with Zelaya on Thursday to demonstrate the country's support for the ousted president.



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