Honduras Coup
Rodrigo Abd  /  AP
Supporters of Honduras' ousted President Manuel Zelaya march in Tegucigalpa, Wednesday, July 15, 2009. More results from a Gallup survey in Honduras were published Wednesday, showing Zelaya remains more popular than his interim replacement Roberto Micheletti.
updated 7/15/2009 8:44:44 PM ET 2009-07-16T00:44:44

Interim Honduran leader Roberto Micheletti says he has offered to step down as long as ousted President Manuel Zelaya isn't allowed to return to power.

Micheletti says the resignation offer was presented by a Honduran delegation in the United States, presumably to the U.S. government.

Micheletti says he is "willing to leave office if at some point that decision is needed to bring peace and tranquility to the country, but without any return, and I stress that, of former President Zelaya."

Micheletti made the comments Wednesday to reporters.

It was unclear if the U.S. government had received the proposal to end the standoff over the country's June 28 coup.

Supporters of ousted President Manuel Zelaya called for labor strikes demanding his return Wednesday, one day after the exiled leader said citizens had the right to rebel against the interim government.

Pro-Zelaya walkouts planned
Labor leader Israel Salinas, one of the main figures in the pro-Zelaya movement, told thousands of demonstrators who marched through the capital that workers at state-owned companies plan walkouts later this week.

He said protest organizers were talking with union leaders at private companies to see if they could mount a general strike against interim President Roberto Micheletti, who has threatened to jail Zelaya if he tries to return.

Salinas also said sympathetic unions in neighboring Nicaragua and El Salvador would try to block border crossings later this week "in solidarity with our struggle."

At the five-hour protest, tempers were high. Demonstrators threw rocks at a government building that houses the country's women's' institute. Police showed up but no injuries were reported.

'The right to insurrection'
Zelaya, a wealthy rancher who shifted to the left after being elected, said Tuesday that the Honduran people "have the right to insurrection" against the acting government that forced him out of the country June 28. Those remarks could augur an escalation in a conflict that has already cost the life of one protester.

Soldiers seized Zelaya and put him on a plane after he ignored the Supreme Court and Congress in pressing ahead with plans for a referendum that many critics depicted as a bid to install a constitutional assembly that could rewrite laws and extend his power after his term ends in January.

"We are going to install the constitutional assembly. We are going to burn the Congress," protest leader Miriam Miranda vowed at the latest demonstration for Zelaya.

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias is mediating talks aimed at resolving the impasse, but Zelaya has grown frustrated by the lack of progress.

Zelaya issues threats
On Monday, Zelaya announced that if the interim government did not agree to reinstate him at the next round of negotiations, "the mediation effort will be considered failed and other measures will be taken." He did not say what those measures would be.

The talks are scheduled to resume Saturday after two earlier rounds failed to produce a breakthrough. Arias, who won the 1987 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts in ending Central America's wars, has urged Zelaya to "be patient."

Micheletti's administration insists Zelaya was ousted legally beause he violated the constitution by pushing for a referendum on retooling the charter. It has refused to bend on reinstating him despite international condemnation of the coup, including from the United States.

The interim government accuses Zelaya of trying to extend his time in office. Zelaya denies that, saying he merely wanted to reform the constitution to make it better serve the poor.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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