The Seven Points of the Arias Plan: A Translation with Commentary


Based on the Spanish version published today in El Heraldo of Honduras.

1. The legitimate restitution of José Manuel Zelaya Rosales as President of the Republic, an office in which he will remain until the end of the constitutional period for which he was elected, and that concludes the 27th of January of next year, the date on which he will transfer power to the candidate designated freely and democratically by the people, in elections supervised and recognized by the international community.

2. The formation of a government of unity and national reconciliation, composed of representatives of the principal political parties.

3. The declaration of a general amnesty exclusively for all those political crimes committed in the event of this conflict, before and after the past 28th of June.

4. The express renunciation by President Zelaya, and his government, of the intention of placing a "fourth ballot-box" in the next elections, or to carry out any popular poll not expressly authorized by the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras.

5. Moving up the national elections of the 29th of November to the last Sunday in October, and moving up the electoral campaign from the first days of September to the first days of August.

6. The transfer of the command of the Armed Forces from the Executive Power to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, one month before the elections, to guarantee transparency and normality of suffrage, in conformity with the terms of the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras.

7. The integration of a commission of verification composed by distinguished Hondurans and members of international organizations, in particular, by representations of the OAS, that will oversee the fulfillment of these accords and supervise the correct return to constitutional order.

Notes: Item 2 calls for the unity government to be composed of representatives of the principal parties. This is odd, because this conflict was not inter-party, but intra-Liberal party. Left undefined: which of the parties are "principle"? "Partidos politicos" can have no other meaning, and does not imply integration of the de facto regime per se.

Item 3 extends amnesty only for political crimes. Does this leave in place the trumped-up charges being manufactured against Zelaya and his cabinet ministers, for example, for drug-running?

Item 5: moving up the campaign will require legislative action, but probably is seen as a way to assure the people that the Zelaya government is a caretaker and to shift attention to the policies that a new government will undertake. Nonetheless, minority parties note that the acceleration of the calendar works against them and in favor of parties with more resources for publicity.

Item 6: by constitution, the Armed Forces guarantee freedom of the polls. This was the center of conflict between President Zelaya and the command of the Armed Forces when he fired the chief of the Armed Forces for refusing to play that role for the public poll June 28. The Supreme Tribunal of Elections, which is not the same as the Supreme Court, oversees the outcome of elections; so this is intended to ensure that the people believe the ballots are not tampered with (one of the corrosive rumors of the anti-cuarta urna campaign) and that President Zelaya cannot insert a fourth ballot somehow.

Item 7: the nod to the OAS in essence is a reprimand to the de facto regime for its vote to leave OAS. The call for distinguished Hondurans to be part of the oversight commission is heartening, if any remain who have not been drawn into, and thus tainted by, the current crisis.