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Honduran de facto president to step down temporarily

Roberto Micheletti said he hopes Hondurans will focus on the election and not the political crisis.
Roberto Micheletti said he hopes Hondurans will focus on the election and not the political crisis.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Political crisis has gripped the country since a coup ousted President Jose Manuel Zelaya in June
  • Roberto Micheletti's cabinet will head the government during his absence
  • An agreement to end the political crisis, signed by representatives of both sides last month, has not been smoothly implemented

(CNN) -- De facto Honduran President Roberto Micheletti will temporarily step down from power in the days surrounding the scheduled November 29 presidential election, Micheletti said in a speech Thursday.

Micheletti said he hopes that by stepping down from November 24 to December 2, Hondurans will focus on the election and not the political crisis that has gripped the country since a coup ousted President Jose Manuel Zelaya in June.

Micheletti's cabinet will head the government during his absence, he said.

In the event that "peace is threatened" near the election, Micheletti said he would immediately reassume his role as president.

An agreement to end the political crisis, signed by representatives of both sides last month, has not been smoothly implemented, putting in question of the legitimacy of the upcoming presidential election.

The agreement called for a unity government to lead Honduras until a new president is elected this month. The pact also stipulated that the nation's congress would vote on whether Zelaya would be returned to power, though reinstatement was not guaranteed.

Congress delayed its vote on Zelaya, opting to ask for an opinion from the country's supreme court, which is yet to come. A congressional leader said the chamber's vote on Zelaya's fate will happen on December 2, after a new president has been elected.

Zelaya, who has called the agreement dead, told CNN en Español that Micheletti's move was "a fake resignation."

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For the ousted president, who has been living inside the Brazilian embassy in the Honduran capital since sneaking back into the country in September, the pact to end the crisis was broken when the creation of a unity government did not happen as planned. Micheletti named himself president of the unity government, and Zelaya refused to participate.

In a statement earlier Thursday, Zelaya called for a new solution and suggested that the presidential election should be postponed until the political crisis is resolved.

"Calling for ordinary general elections under a de facto state, without having previously restored democracy, and without having previously installed the government of unity and reconciliation, or without a constituent power that reinstates the rule of law are legal aberrations, a mockery and a sham against the people," Zelaya said.

The political crisis stemmed from Zelaya's desire to hold a referendum that could have changed the constitution to allow longer terms for the president.

The country's congress had outlawed the vote, and the supreme court had ruled it illegal.

Micheletti and his supporters say Zelaya's removal was a constitutional transfer of power and not a coup.

 
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