Zelaya to stay in Honduras until January-end

Last Updated: Saturday, December 12, 2009 - 14:10

Rio de Janeiro: Deposed Honduran leader Manuel Zelaya said he would remain at the Brazilian embassy in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa until January 27, 2010 at the latest, when his term formally ends.
"However, I would like to leave as soon as possible, obviously with the support of the Brazilian government," Zelaya told Brazil`s Globo television.

The cowboy-hatted ousted president, exiled in a military-backed coup in June, secretly slipped back into Honduras in September and has remained at the heavily fortified Brazilian embassy ever since.

"He is absolutely aware that when his mandate ends, he will need to go elsewhere," said the Brazilian embassy`s charge d` affaires Francisco Catunda.

The de facto regime of Roberto Micheletti on Friday demanded that Brazil clarify its reasons for allowing Zelaya to remain inside its embassy.

"The Honduran government, once again, calls on the government of Brazil to define the legal status under which Jose Manuel Zelaya remains in its facilities," the Foreign Affairs Ministry said in a statement.

On Thursday, Zelaya, who has steadfastly insisted he be returned to power, rejected a Mexican offer for safe passage after Micheletti imposed the condition he be granted political asylum, which, he said, would invalidate his claim to the presidency.

The chances of his return to power were eroded by successful November 29 elections that were recognised by a number of nations, including the United States and Costa Rica.

The winner, Porfirio Lobo, is set to take office after Zelaya`s term expires next month.

Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez on Friday said he would meet Zelaya on Sunday and Lobo on Monday in Santo Domingo, in his bid to mediate in the Honduras crisis.

Fernandez, who said he already spoke with both men in the past, said he hoped the de facto regime would not stifle this new attempt at negotiations and allow Zelaya to travel to the Dominican Republic.

Bureau Report

First Published: Saturday, December 12, 2009 - 14:10

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