World

Honduran police shut down Zelaya supporters

Honduran security forces used tear gas to break up demonstrations Tuesday by supporters of deposed president Manuel Zelaya outside the Brazilian Embassy where he has taken refuge.
Supporters of ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya run from tear gas fired by riot police during clashes near the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa on Tuesday. ((Fernando Antonio/Associated Press))
The interim Honduran government extended a curfew until Wednesday morning after security forces used tear gas to break up demonstrations Tuesday by supporters of deposed president Manuel Zelaya outside the Brazilian Embassy where he has taken refuge.

Zelaya and 70 friends and family were holed up at the embassy in the capital Tegucigalpa, a day after slipping back into the country in a stealthy homecoming. Thousands of his supporters defied a 26-hour curfew that was originally imposed on Monday, spending the night cheering and dancing outside the embassy.

The curfew now extends to 6 a.m. local time Wednesday.

"We know we are in danger," Zelaya said during interviews with various media outlets on Tuesday. "We are ready to risk everything — to sacrifice."

Zelaya, was expelled from Honduras at gunpoint on June 28, just hours before a rogue referendum he had called that defied the country's courts and congress.

Opponents feared Zelaya would use the referendum to remain in power after his term ended on Jan. 27, 2010. The Honduran constitution limits presidents to a single four-year term.

Global leaders condemned the coup, with the United States, European Union and international agencies cutting off aid to Honduras to press for Zelaya's return.

Hand over Zelaya, interim president demands

Interim president Roberto Micheletti ordered the 26-hour shutdown of the capital beginning Monday afternoon, closing the airport and setting up roadblocks on highways leading into town.

The move was meant to keep Zelaya supporters from other regions away, in an attempt to head off the big protests that disrupted the city after his ouster.

Micheletti had initially said Zelaya was lying about being back in the country, then pressed Brazil to hand him over to Honduran authorities for trial, rebuffing Zelaya's request to start a dialogue with the interim government to resolve the issue.

Some officials suggested the embassy would be no refuge for Zelaya.

"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.

Embassy workers were told to stay home and most did. Embassy charge d'affaires Francisco Catunda Resende said water, phone and electricity services had been cut. The mission is operating on a diesel-powered generator, according to a spokesman with Brazil's Foreign Ministry.

International officials urge calm

A senior U.S. official said Brazil had asked for help acquiring generators, fuel and water.

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he spoke with Zelaya by phone Tuesday and asked him not to provide a pretext for coup leaders to invade the embassy.

Earlier talks moderated by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias stalled over the interim government's refusal to accept Zelaya's reinstatement to the presidency under a power-sharing agreement that would limit his powers and prohibit him from attempting to revise the constitution.

The secretary general of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, called for calm and warned Honduran officials to avoid any violation of the Brazilian diplomatic mission.

With files from The Associated Press

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