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Deposed Zelaya holed up in embassy

2009-09-23 09:49 BJT

Honduras' ousted President Manuel Zelaya sleeps inside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa September 22, 2009. Zelaya ended almost three months of exile by sneaking back into Honduras on Monday, seeking refuge at the Brazilian embassy to avoid being arrested.REUTERS/Edgard Garrido(HONDURAS POLITICS IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Honduras' ousted President Manuel Zelaya sleeps inside the Brazilian 
embassy in Tegucigalpa September 22, 2009. Zelaya ended almost three 
months of exile by sneaking back into Honduras on Monday, seeking 
refuge at the Brazilian embassy to avoid being arrested.

"The inviolability of a diplomatic mission does not imply the protection of delinquents or fugitives from justice," said Micheletti's foreign ministry adviser, Mario Fortinthe.

Micheletti repeated his insistence that had never been a coup - just a "constitutional succession" ordered by the courts and approved by Congress.

"Coups do not allow freedom of assembly," he wrote in a column published Tuesday in the Washington Post. "They do not guarantee freedom of the press, much less a respect for human rights. In Honduras, these freedoms remain intact and vibrant."

Meanwhile Micheletti closed airports and borders, and baton-wielding police fired tear gas to chase thousands of demonstrators away from the embassy where Zelaya's supporters had gathered.

Some gas canisters fell inside the walls of the Brazilian embassy, where Zelaya, his wife, some of their children, Cabinet members, journalists, about 70 people in all, kept a tense watch on police and soldiers who patrolled from neighboring rooftops. Some napped on couches, others curled up on the floor beneath travel posters of Brazilian beaches.

Zelaya said he had no plans to leave and he repeatedly asked to speak with Micheletti.

Those negotiations have yet to begin, and with his embassy the current hotspot for the Honduran crisis, Brazil's president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva called Zelaya and pressed him not to do anything that might provoke an invasion of the diplomatic mission.

Embassy staff were told to stay home, and embassy charge d'affaires Francisco Catunda Resende said water, phone and electricity services had been cut, leaving the mission with a diesel powered generator, according to a spokesman with Brazil's Foreign Ministry who did not give his name in keeping with policy.

Diplomats around the world, from the European Union to the US State Department, were urging calm while repeating their recognition of Zelaya as Honduras' legitimate president.