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Interim Honduran chief offers to step down to alleviate tension

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Honduras' interim leader said Wednesday that he is willing to step down if it helps end his country's political crisis, but on the condition that the move guarantees that ousted President Manuel Zelaya doesn't return to take his place.

Roberto Micheletti, who was sworn in as president after the June 28 military-backed coup that toppled Zelaya, said the resignation offer was presented by a Honduran delegation in the United States, presumably to the U.S. government.

The interim president told a reporter in Tegucigalpa that he is "willing to leave office if at some point that decision is needed to bring peace and tranquility to the country, but without, I stress, the return of former President Zelaya."

The move comes as supporters of Zelaya threatened to call strikes and work stoppages to protest his ouster. Internationally brokered talks to end the crisis were to resume this weekend.

Labor leader Israel Salinas, one of the main figures in the pro-Zelaya movement, told thousands of demonstrators who marched through the capital Wednesday 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 Micheletti, who has threatened to jail Zelaya if he tries to return.

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

Interim Honduran chief offers to step down to alleviate tension 07/15/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 15, 2009 10:59pm]
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