Government soldiers flew Zelaya out of Honduras at gunpoint in June, months before the end of his term.

The interim Honduran government led by Roberto Micheletti has ignored international condemnation and is pushing ahead with preparations for the November elections, which were scheduled before Zelaya's removal.

Interim leaders have expressed hope that international interest in restoring
Zelaya will fade once the vote takes place – a strategy that some of Zelaya's allies fear will work.

Return 'hard to imagine'

Earlier this week Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, said he doubted Zelaya would be restored to office.

Chavez has been a close ally of the ousted Honduran leader [AFP]
Chavez made the comments on Monday after weeks of negotiations aimed at re-installing his close leftist ally.

"Regardless of whether Zelaya returns or not, and really, at this point, that's hard to imagine, Honduras will keep up the fight," Chavez said in a phone call to Venezuelan television from Libya.

Despite condemnation from the United States and most world governments, Honduras' interim government, led by Roberto Micheletti, has refused to allow the return of Zelaya, who it says was too close to Chavez.

Chavez initially put his troops on alert after the coup and provided Zelaya with the jet he used in a failed attempt to return to the Honduran capital days after his overthrow.

Micheletti believes that he can hold on to power until a new president takes office in January after the elections.

Call to vote

Micheletti has urged Hondurans to vote in November presidential polls [Reuters]

On Tuesday, Micheletti urged citizens to vote in November elections, vowing that the vote for a new president will show the world democracy thrives in Honduras despite the coup.

Campaigning began this week amid warnings from many Latin American countries that they will not recognise the outcome of any election until Zelaya is restored to power.

"We will be watched by many countries in the world," Micheletti said in a televised address.

"This process will serve to categorically show that we appreciate democracy, that we are a people who want to live in harmony.''

He also said the elections "are the only final and definitive solution to the political crisis".

Micheletti continues to maintain that Zelaya was legally removed from office by Congress for violating a Supreme Court order to drop efforts to change the constitution.