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Showdown looms in Honduras

Interim President Roberto Micheletti vows to have ousted President Manuel Zelaya arrested if he returns Thursday. Hondurans are concerned about foreign intervention.

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Soldiers stand guard on a corner near the presidential residence in Tegucigalpa, Wednesday. Honduras' interim president, Roberto Micheletti, warned that the only way ousted President Manuel Zelaya will return to office is through a foreign invasion but a potential showdown was postponed when Zelaya delayed his plans to return to Honduras.

Dario Lopez-Mills/AP

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International pressure on the coup leaders in Honduras could force them to accept leftist President Manuel Zelaya back into the country under a political arrangement in which he promises not to circumvent a Supreme Court ruling against changing the Constitution to allow him to run for another term.

Mr. Zelaya could resume power until elections at the end of the year and then go quietly back to the countryside, which he promised to do Tuesday in front of the United Nations.

But so far, newly appointed interim president, Roberto Micheletti, is having none of it. He warns that if Zelaya returns, he will be arrested.

Zelaya plans to come back this weekend in what could be a showdown, leading to speculation – and veiled threats – about how regional leaders, particularly Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, may intervene.

The stakes are high. Emilio Alvarez, Nicaragua's former minister of international relations, says political crises of this nature in Central America can only be resolved in one of two ways: an agreement is worked out between both sides, or a violent rupture.

In the case of Honduras, Mr. Alvarez says that an agreement has to be worked out, because "the other option would be Chávez invading by air, sea, and land from Nicaragua. And that can't happen – it would be worse than the coup itself."

Under-the-table talks?

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