[JURIST] The Honduran Supreme Court [official website, in Spanish] on Wednesday ruled that ousted former president Manuel Zelaya [JURIST news archive] cannot legally return to office. The court's decision [Reuters report] is a significant blow to Zelaya's prospects for regaining power. Under the so-called Tegucigalpa/San Jose accord [Honduras News materials], Zelaya would have been able to return to the office of president assuming Supreme Court approval and an affirmative vote by the Honduran legislature. The legislature's vote, originally scheduled for November 29th [Reuters report], has been moved back to December 2nd. It is not clear what effect the Court's non-binding opinion will have on that vote. Similarly, it is not clear how the decision will effect the results of the Honduran presidential election [Guardian report], scheduled for November 29th. Neither Zelaya nor current president Roberto Micheletti are on the ballot for that election.
The Honduran Supreme Court's opinion and the impending presidential election may signal an end to the five month-old saga that has drawn international attention to the small country. That saga began with a military coup [JURIST report] when the Supreme Court ordered Zelaya to be removed from power in June. In September, Zelaya returned to Honduras after a three-month period of exile, seeking refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. In late October, the possibility of his return to power was announced [JURIST report] by the interim government, with the condition of judicial and legislative approval.