On November 29 the people of Honduras decided on the man – Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo – to lead their nation for the next four years. Hondurans voted for a break from the past and an escape from the turmoil that has enmeshed their country since June 28 when Manuel Zelaya was removed from the presidency.
On December 2, the national Congress – the body that voted for Zelaya’s removal – must decide on the future of its former president, now residing in asylum in the Brazilian embassy a few blocks away from the National Palace. The debate will be intense and the odds against a yes vote for Zelaya are considerable. Zelaya is on record as saying he will not accept any offer since he was not returned to power before the elections. Dealing with Zelaya will not be easy.
Despite the successful elections of November 29, the U.S. State Department has laid down three additional conditions for a full restoration of relations with Honduras: 1) a unity government, 2) a truth commission to investigate the events of June 28, and 3) the Congressional vote on Zelaya’s return. It implies Zelaya’s restitution is part of that deal.
Other nations such as Brazil demand nothing less than a full restoration of Zelaya, presumably endowed with the powers he possessed before June 28, and will likely press for new elections and other impositions Hondurans will never accept.
Three key figures – president-elect Pepe Lobo, former president Manuel Zelaya, and interim president Roberto Micheletti – make an unusual and hostile triumvirate, yet they are the key figures who must rise to the occasion in this high political drama. They can work with their backers in the Congress to rescue their nation or they can accentuate the political divisions that threaten to split Honduras asunder and leave it dangling in the limbo of international isolation. On this day of three presidents in Honduras, leadership and character will be tested.