A first round of talks in Costa Rica to reach a solution to the political crisis failed after Roberto Micheletti, Honduras' interim president, and Zelaya, left the dialogue without meeting each other.

Micheletti and Zelaya are unlikely to attend Saturday’s talks, with delegations representing them instead.

Zelaya 'return'

Zelaya was deposed on June 28 when troops loyal to Micheletti took him from the presidential palace and forced him into exile.

"Zelaya is going to enter Honduras, let's see what those thugs do"

Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela

The ousted leader has demanded that he be reinstated as president of Honduras, but Micheletti has said that Zelaya will be arrested if he enters the country.

However, Venezuela's president said on Friday that Zelaya, would return home "in the next few hours."

"Zelaya is going to enter Honduras, let's see what those thugs do," Hugo Chavez said in La Paz, the Bolivian capital, referring to the Honduran interim government.

Supporters of Zelaya said on Thursday that he was en route to Honduras, though they did not say how or when he planned to enter the country. His location is unclear.

Patricia Rodas, foreign minister in Zelaya's government, said on Thursday that he was planning to form an alternative seat of government in Honduras and challenge Micheletti.

'Illegal' vote

Should Zelaya attempt to enter to Honduras, it will be his second effort to return home since he was deposed.

His first attempt on July 5 failed when military vehicles blocked the runway of Tegucigalpa’s main airport and prevented his aircraft from landing.

Micheletti has insisted that Zelaya will not be permitted to return to the presidency [AFP]
Professor Francisco Dominguez, head of the Centre of Brazil and Latin American Studies at Middlesex University in southern England, said Zelaya may try a different strategy when making another attempt to return to Honduras.

"The attempt that he made on July 5 failed beacause he tried to return by air and the implication now is that he will return by land. The border is extremely porous," he said.

"Rodas hinted two days ago that there were very likely army generals that would switch sides [and support Zelaya]. I don't think that will necessarily mean civil war; I think it will mean that the regime in Tegucigalpa - which is under siege by just about everybody - is very likely to collapse very quickly."

Zelaya was overthrown by the military on the same day that he was due to push ahead with a non-binding referendum on proposed changes to the Honduran constitution.

The country's legislature and supreme court had opposed the vote, declaring it illegal and accusing Zelaya of trying to win support for an extension to his presidential term.

Zelaya denies the allegations, arguing that constitutional change is needed to better represent the country's poor.