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Honduras chief’s return scorned July 25, 2009

Posted by ramosy in Uncategorized.
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The interim government in Honduras has dismissed the brief return to the country of the deposed president, Manuel Zelaya, as a publicity stunt.

Mr Zelaya crossed a few metres into Honduras from Nicaragua, before retreating a few minutes later.

The interim Honduran President, Roberto Micheletti, said Mr Zelaya’s action was “ill-conceived and silly”.

The US also criticised his move, but Mr Zelaya says he is determined to try again, despite the threat of arrest.

The interim authorities who removed him from office in June had warned they would arrest him if he returned.

Frontier zone

But Interim Deputy Security Minister Mario Perdomo said authorities did not bother to arrest Mr Zelaya because he barely entered Honduras.

“Zelaya made a show of entering Honduras: he put one foot in, and left,” Mr Perdomo told Associated Press news agency.

“And he did this in a dead zone of the frontier, which we tolerated.”

Anti-Zelaya supportes protested about his planned return
Anti-Zelaya supporters protested about his planned return

The BBC’s Stephen Gibbs, at the scene, said military personnel, apparently unsure how to react, retreated about 20m as Mr Zelaya stepped under a chain marking the border at Los Manos.

The event lasted less than 30 minutes, with Mr Zelaya posing next to a sign reading “welcome to Honduras” before walking back to Nicaragua.

“I am not afraid but I’m not crazy either,” he told Venezuelan-based TV network Telesur. “There could be violence and I don’t want to be the cause.”

Mr Zelaya said he would continue his attempts to return home, despite the threats of arrest.

A night curfew already extends over all of Honduras, but people living close to the border were ordered to stay at home between midday local time (1800GMT) and 0600 (1200GMT) to “keep the peace”.

Thousands of Zelaya supporters ignored the curfew and gathered near the border, prompting police to fire tear gas.

At the same time, thousands of supporters of the interim government gathered in the northern Honduras city of San Pedro Sula, holding signs reading “Zelaya can return, but to jail.”

‘Reckless’

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticised Mr Zelaya’s action, calling it “reckless” and “not conducive to the broader effort to restore constitutional order”.

Talks in Costa Rica aimed at resolving the political crisis collapsed two weeks ago with no agreement reached, but Mr Zelaya told reporters he was willing to return to negotiations.

Mr Zelaya has been in exile for nearly a month after a coup forced him from power.

Mr Zelaya had planned to hold a non-binding public consultation to ask people whether they supported moves to change the constitution.

His critics said the move was unconstitutional and aimed to remove the current one-term limit on serving as president and pave the way for his possible re-election.

He insists he remains the democratically-elected leader of Honduras and had previously attempted to return home on 5 July.

On that occasion, his plane was prevented from landing when the Honduran military blocked the runway.


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