Ousted President Manuel Zelaya returned to the Honduran-Nicaraguan border on Saturday and announced he would set up camp there, a day after briefly stepping into his homeland in defiance of the ruling government that overthrew him a month ago.


Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, centre, greets supporters on Saturday in Las Manos, Nicaragua. ((Eduardo Verdugo/Associated Press) )

Zelaya, who wants to be reinstated, said he was forced to take this action because he has not been able to negotiate a verbal agreement with the Central American country's interim government, which took power in a June 28 coup.

On Saturday morning, Zelaya arrived at a rural frontier crossing and immediately grabbed a megaphone, shouting to a crowd of 150 supporters and about as many journalists.

He vowed to wait near the border and demanded his family be allowed to meet him.

"Today we are going to set up camps here, with water and food. We are going to stay here this afternoon, tonight and tomorrow morning," he said.

About 50 soldiers manned a line about 100 metres inside Honduran territory, with a few Honduran police officers a bit closer to the line.

No tents

But in the afternoon, Zelaya and his supporters were forced to take shelter from heavy rains in the eaves of local border shops and ramshackle eateries after the tents promised by the president didn't show up. 

School buses later drove the Zelaya supporters to the nearby town of El Ocotal to spend the night in a gymnasium before returning them to the border crossing Sunday morning.

Interim Honduras leader Roberto Micheletti has insisted his administration will arrest Zelaya once he sets foot in the country. However, in a statement Friday, he said he is still willing to negotiate.

All governments in the Western Hemisphere have condemned the coup, in which soldiers acting on orders from Congress and the Supreme Court arrested Zelaya and flew him into exile in Costa Rica.

The United States and the Organization of American States have asked Zelaya to be patient and not return on his own, fearing it could plunge the country into chaos.

With files from The Associated Press