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Zelaya decries US stance
Ousted Honduran president criticises US secretary of state for "evading the topic".
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2009 04:24 GMT

Manuel Zelaya urged the US to stop evading the issue and "confront the dictatorship with force" [AFP]

Manuel Zelaya, the deposed Honduran president, has complained about what he described as waning condemnation by the US of his removal from office, saying Washington's position on the coup was not clear.

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, criticised Zelaya on Friday for being "reckless" when he tried to return to Honduras late last week in a symbolic gesture before the international media.

But Zelaya hit back at Clinton saying she had stopped using the term "coup" to describe his removal from power by the military last month.

"The position of the Secretary Clinton at the beginning was firm," he told reporters. "Now I feel that she's not really denouncing [it] and she's not acting firmly against the repression that Honduras is suffering."

Zelaya crossed the border from Nicaragua on Friday and took a few steps on Honduran soil before retreating shortly after that, but has set up a camp at a border crossing in a bid to put pressure on the Honduran interim government.

'Confront with force'

"Secretary Clinton needs to confront the dictatorship with force so we will be able to speak well about President [Barack] Obama," Zelaya said.

"Confront it with strength. She should stop evading the topic of the dictatorship and confront it so that we know exactly what the United States' position is in relation to this coup."

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Roberto Micheletti, Honduras' de facto president, dismissed Zelaya's brief border crossing as an "ill conceived and not very serious" publicity stunt, warning that he would face multiple charges if he returns to Honduras.

Zelaya's attempts to return to Honduras came after crisis talks mediated by Oscar Arias, the Costa Rican president, collapsed.

An earlier attempt to return to Honduras by air on July 5 failed when the interim government instructed the military to block the runway at the airport in Tegucigalpa, the capital.

Al Jazeera's Monica Villamizar, who accompanied Zelaya in his car at the frontier crossing said he wanted to get enough people to meet and accompany him into Honduras.

Honduran authorities ordered a daytime curfew in the border region. Traffic was curtailed by multiple checkpoints but pedestrians were still out and about.

In the town of Danli, about 35km from the border, a small group of Zelaya supporters including his wife were blocked from proceeding to the border.

US support

According to the US State Department, Zelaya is scheduled to visit Washington on Tuesday but it was unclear from his aides whether he would make the trip.

A curfew prevented Zelaya's supporters from proceeding to the border [Reuters]
In Washington, the Honduran embassy announced that Zelaya had asked Obama to ban bank transactions and cancel the US visas of individuals "directly responsible for my abduction and the interruption of constitutional order in my country".

The list included Roberto Micheletti and top government and military officials.

"We believe that the measures that we are asking the US administration to take will exercise direct pressure on the perpetrators of the coup without causing any sort of negative impact on the people of Honduras," Enrique Reina, Zelaya's new ambassador-designate in Washington, said.

Obama has cut $16.5m in military aid to Honduras but has yet to take harsher measures, and there are growing tensions with Zelaya, who is a close ally of Hugo Chavez, the anti-US Venezuelan president.

"It's been very clear from the outset that [the Obama administration] didn't really like Zelaya anyway," said Vicki Gass, an analyst with the Washington Office on Latin America.

"This wishy-washiness on their part is giving the impression that they are backing away from their original stance."

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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