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Thu, 16 Jul 2009 11:23 - Updated Thu, 16 Jul 2009 11:22

Honduran interim leader: I'm willing to step down


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Tegucigalpa - Honduras' interim leader said Wednesday he is willing to step down to help end his country's political crisis, but only if ousted President Manuel Zelaya isn't allowed to regain power.

Roberto Micheletti also accused unspecified groups of handing out weapons and planning an armed rebellion, and his government reinstated an overnight curfew. The move came a day after Zelaya called for an insurrection in Honduras.

Micheletti, the former congressional leader who was selected by lawmakers to serve out the final six months of Zelaya's term, presented the resignation offer as a means to end the nearly three-week standoff over Honduras' military-backed coup.

The interim president said he was willing to leave office "if at some point that decision is needed to bring peace and tranquility to the country, but without the return, and I stress this, of former President Zelaya".

The offer was presented by a Honduran delegation to the Washington-based Organization of American States, Micheletti told reporters in Tegucigalpa. It was unclear if the OAS had received the proposal.

Zelaya was not immediately available for comment, but the offer appeared unlikely to resolve the standoff over the June 28 coup, in which soldiers seized Zelaya and hustled him out of the country on a plane. Talks on ending the crisis are expected to resume Saturday in Costa Rica.

If Micheletti were to resign, under Honduran law the presidency would pass to Supreme Court President Jorge Rivera. The Supreme Court backed the coup.

Zelaya has insisted that he intends to return as president, saying that point is not open to negotiation. On Tuesday, he said Hondurans had a right to stage an insurrection against Micheletti's internationally isolated government.