In a move designed to both end the political standoff and box in the deposed leader, Honduran interim President Roberto Micheletti has made a surprising offer to the exiled Manuel Zelaya. Under the terms of the offer, Zelaya could renounce any claim to the office and return as a private citizen with no fear of prosecution. Micheletti would also resign from public office, and new elections would take place as soon as possible under the monitoring of independent foreign observers.
The offer is a brilliant stratagem that puts the ball firmly in Zelaya’s court. As Ed Morrissey correctly analyzes, there’s no way that Zelaya can refuse without solidifying his image as a man only in search of power in the mold of his friend and ally Hugo Chavez. This deal gives Zelaya and the international hand-wringers what they ostensibly want – Zelaya back in Honduras and the head of the “coup” government out. To balk at the deal is to give away the ulterior motives of those involved, which is something Zelaya may still do, but at the risk of losing what international support he has currently.
I have to give credit to Honduras. Throughout this whole crisis they’ve played their hand very well, acting judiciously and not overreaching or overextending themselves. As a result they’re in a favorable diplomatic position and may come through this whole ordeal with the rule of their law intact, which is a huge step in showing other would-be dictators that it’s not always as easy as it looks.