TEGUCIGALPA – Rivals for power in Honduras held to their conflicting and seemingly intractable positions on Friday as hopes faded for a quick negotiated solution to the crisis triggered by last month's coup.
The dual presidents who both claim to be the legitimate head of state failed to reach an accord or even meet face-to-face during talks in Costa Rica on Thursday, but they left behind low-level teams that were set to resume mediation on Friday.
Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and the man who replaced him after the June 28 coup, Roberto Micheletti, have refused to budge.
Micheletti has insisted Zelaya's removal was lawful because he violated the constitution in seeking to lift presidential term limits and said he would not be allowed to return to Honduras unless it was to face trial.
Zelaya in turn has called Micheletti a criminal guilty of treason who must step down within 24 hours.
Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, the former Nobel Peace Prize winner who helped resolve Central America's Cold War conflicts of the 1980s, is now trying to mediate the worst regional crisis since then. He hosted the talks in San Jose.
The truth is that there is still a lot of intransigence on both sides, Organization of American States Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza told local radio in Chile on Friday.
I would have expected some kind of opening toward a solution in the conversations ... and that they would have left some pre-arranged framework before leaving, but it looks like that didn't happen, Insulza said.
The United States and the OAS have called for Zelaya's reinstatement but much of the Honduran political class and the country's Supreme Court have deemed his ouster legal because of Zelaya's moves to extend the presidential term limit.
Zelaya had also angered his country's ruling elite and military by increasingly allying himself with leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
Zelaya's critics deny his ouster was a coup, saying Zelaya violated the constitution and defied Congress and the Supreme Court by insisting on a June 28 vote to gauge public support for a constituent assembly that they feared could have rewritten the constitution and allowed Zelaya to remain in power.
The army, acting on what it said were the orders of Congress and the Supreme Court, rousted Zelaya from his sleep on the morning of the vote and expelled him to Costa Rica.
A CID-Gallup poll published in Honduran media on Thursday showed 41 percent of Hondurans thought that Zelaya's ouster was justified versus 28 percent who opposed the coup.
(Editing by Eric Beech)