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Honduras may grant Zelaya amnesty
Military-backed government lifts curfew but maintains ousted leader cannot be reinstated.
Last Modified: 13 Jul 2009 01:35 GMT

The interim government has lifted a curfew, saying it had restored calm and reduced crime [AFP]

Honduras' military-backed interim leader has reiterated that ousted president Manuel Zelaya will never be allowed to return to power.

But, Roberto Micheletti said on Sunday, Zelaya could be granted amnesty if he were to return home quietly to face justice.

"If he comes peacefully first to appear before the authorities ... I don't have any problem [with granting him amnesty]," Micheletti told the Reuters news agency in Tegucigalpa.

The interim government blocked an attempt by Zelaya to return to Honduras last week, triggering clashes between the military and Zelaya supporters that resulted in the death of a teenage boy.

Curfew lifted

Its apparent change of tack to allow Zelaya to return if he does so "peacefully", comes on the same day that it lifted a curfew that had been in place since the coup two weeks ago.

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Micheletti's interim government said it was lifting the curfew as it had succeeded in restoring calm and reducing crime.

For his part, Zelaya told Caracas-based Telesur television on Sunday that he intended to return "at any time, on any day, anywhere".

Micheletti, installed by congress just hours after the June 28 military coup that forced Zelaya into exile, repeated his position that Zelaya would not be reinstated as president "under any conditions".

The military-backed interim government has continued to defy international condemnation of last month's coup and calls from the
Organisation of American States, the US and the UN General Assembly for Zelaya to be reinstated.

The country's congress and supreme court ordered the army to remove Zelaya last month, arguing he had violated the country's constitution by attempting to lift presidential term limits.

Zelaya, who has been travelling in the Americas to shore up his support, also ran afoul of his political base and ruling elites in the conservative country by allying himself with Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president.

Chavez blamed

Country facts


 Second largest country in Central America
 Population of 7.2 million
 Second poorest country in the region
 Economy forecast to grow less than two per cent this year
 Relies on money from Hondurans in the US for more than 25 per cent of its gross domestic product
 Former Spanish colony gained independence in 1821

Micheletti blamed Chavez for the political crisis in his country on Sunday.

"Chavez is the great damage that democracy in Honduras has suffered. We hold him responsible for any incident or any invasion that might come against Honduras from any country," he said.

In a sign of the tensions with Caracas, Honduran police on Saturday night detained for several hours members of television crews of the Venezuelan state channel VTV and Telesur, which have extensively covered pro-Zelaya protests.

Speaking in Caracas, Chavez condemned the detention.

Micheletti's interim government held talks with Zelaya's representatives last week with Oscar Arias, the Costa Rican president, mediating.

The talks ended in a stalemate but Arias has suggested a follow-up round of talks in about a week's time, with Zelaya proposing that it be held in Honduras.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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