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Zelaya demands presidency as U.N. condemns Honduras
Fri Sep 25, 2009 8:11pm EDT
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By Patrick Markey
TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya warned on Friday that tentative talks to end a three-month political crisis would go nowhere unless the de facto leaders who toppled him in a coup restored him to power.
As the United Nations condemned the de facto Honduran government for "acts of intimidation" at the Brazilian Embassy where Zelaya has taken refuge, the deposed leftist said he met with a representative of the pro-coup administration but made little progress.
Zelaya called on his supporters to descend on the capital to pressure the government of de facto leader Roberto Micheletti, who has resisted all international demands that he allow Zelaya to return to office. Micheletti insists Zelaya must faces charges for violating the constitution.
"We urge the resistance to keep fighting until together the people and president achieve ... the fall of the usurpers," Zelaya said. "We see no willingness on the part of the de facto government to reinstate the president."
Zelaya, a leftist who was forced into exile in June, sneaked home on Monday and sought refuge in the Brazilian Embassy to avoid arrest as he campaigns for his return to power.
Several thousand pro-Zelaya protesters took to the streets of Tegucigalpa on Friday, waving flags and chanting: "We want Mel," using the ousted leader's nickname. The capital has begun to return to normal since the government eased a daily curfew imposed earlier this week.
Speaking to a local television channel from inside the embassy, Zelaya accused police of using toxic gases to poison those inside, causing headaches and nose bleeds. Troops have blasted the embassy with high-intensity sound and marched outside, drawing protests from Brazil.
"We'll take this to mean clearly they don't want to hold any dialogue," Zelaya said, sporting his trademark cowboy hat.
Micheletti's administration denied a gas attack and said the strong smells of chemicals in the neighborhood of the embassy might have been caused by cleaning the streets.
Zelaya's return has stoked tensions in Honduras, where state television runs anti-Zelaya spots accusing him of stealing public money and treason. One man was shot and killed in a clash between police and Zelaya supporters this week.
The United States, the European Union and the Organization of American States have condemned Zelaya's ouster.
The U.N. Security Council called on the de facto government on Friday to "cease harassing" the Brazilian Embassy but did not debate Zelaya's future.
Hundreds of soldiers and riot police have surrounded the Brazilian compound, where Zelaya is holed up with his family and about 40 supporters despite food and water shortages.
Speaking at the Group of 20 summit in Pittsburgh, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said Zelaya was welcome to stay in the embassy as long as he wants. Continued...
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