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22 Sep 2009 15:43
Honduran police dispersed hundreds of protesters on Tuesday outside the Brazilian embassy where ousted President Manuel Zelaya has taken refuge after sneaking back into the country in a bid to return to power.
A Reuters photographer at the embassy said police fired tear gas at the protesters and at least two gas canisters landed inside the embassy compound.
Zelaya remained inside the embassy and accused police of preparing an attack.
“The embassy is surrounded by police and the military ... I foresee bigger acts of aggression and violence, that they could be capable of even invading the Brazilian embassy,” Zelaya said in an interview with Venezuelan broadcaster Telesur.
A police spokesperson said all the protesters had been dispersed and that an all day curfew would remain in effect.
Honduras’ de facto leader Roberto Micheletti was put in power after Zelaya, a leftist, was toppled and forced into exile in a June 28 coup.
Despite economic sanctions imposed by the United States government and the European Union, Micheletti has repeatedly refused to back down and insisted Zelaya would be arrested if he returned to Honduras.
Micheletti’s government appeared to be winning the battle of wills and was betting that the international pressure would ease after a new president is elected in November and takes power in January.
But Zelaya’s surprise return has put new pressure on his rivals with the threat of street protests.
“I’m calling on all the population to come to Tegucigalpa because we are in the final offensive for the restitution of the presidency,” told a local radio station late on Monday.
The US, the EU and the Organisation of American States have called for negotiations and a return to democratic rule in the Central American country.
With Zelaya mobilising his supporters and the de facto government imposing a curfew, the EU also told all sides on Tuesday to “refrain from any action that might increase tension and violence”.
Soldiers toppled Zelaya at gunpoint and sent him into exile in his pajamas on June 28 in a dispute over presidential term limits.—Reuters
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