The United States has decided to endorse the result of the upcoming election in Honduras, with or without Manuel Zelaya, the ousted president, in the next government.
Ian Kelly, a State Department spokesman, said the poll on Sunday is a “critical step” towards restoring democracy in the country.
“The holding of a free, fair and transparent election is necessary but not sufficient for Honduras to re-establish the democratic and constitutional order,” he said in a statement on Friday.
Kelly said Washington, which originally condemned the June ouster of Zelaya, would continue to push for implementation of a US-brokered deal to create a unity government and let the Congress decide on whether to reinstate Zelaya until the next president takes office in January.
Dividing the region
Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman, reporting from Tegucigalpa, said that people were nervous in the run-up to the vote.
“We have been hearing that the people who supported the ousted president are saying that they are going to boycott the election,” she said.
“But there’s also a lot of concern that there could be some violence. Over the last few weeks and particularly over the last few days, the atmosphere has been very tense – there have been some grenade attacks on buses, supreme court buildings and various other places, injuring a few people.
“Some people have said that they are going to try to vote but that they are going to get out very early because there are rumours that violence could break out by mid-afternoon on election day on Sunday.”
The question of whether to back the Honduran vote has also divided other countries in Latin America.
The foreign policy adviser of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva Brazil’s president, has said that the US risked souring relations with most of Latin America if it recognised the Honduras election.
But Costa Rica has promised to restore ties with Honduras if its presidential elections are clean.
Oscar Arias, the president, said he would urge governments at the Ibero-American summit in Portugal next week not to punish the next Honduran government for the coup.
“If the elections are transparent, there are no accusations of fraud, the observers find there was nothing incorrect, I am going to ask Ibero-American countries to recognise the future Honduran government,” Arias said in a statement on Friday.
However, Celso Amorim, Brazil’s foreign minister said on Thursday that his government would not recognise the election as that would be paramount to legitimising the June coup.