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Pro-Zelaya supporters stage protest
Ousted Honduran president remains trapped in Brazilian embassy.
Last Modified: 26 Sep 2009 23:13 GMT
The UN Security Council warned the interim authorities not to harass the embassy [AFP]

Thousands of Manuel Zelaya's supporters have taken to the streets of Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capital, to mark 90 days since he was ousted from power.

Surrounded by anti-riot police and soldiers, thousands marched to the Brazilian embassy on Saturday where Zelaya has been holed up since Monday, while hundreds more took part in a vehicle  protest, hanging out car windows, honking horns and waving Honduran flags as they drove through a main axis of the capital.

"Thanks, Brazil, for protecting Mel (Zelaya's nickname) from  this vile regime," one banner read.

Many said that Zelaya's suprise return to the country on Monday, nearly three months after he was ousted in a dispute over his  plans to change the constitution,  had strengthened his support.

"The coup leaders have more pressure to negotiate" now, union  leader Juan Barahona told AFP news agency.

A top diplomat leaving the Brazilian embassy denounced the state of "siege," with troops lined up around the compound.

"It's the only place in the world where there's an embassy under siege," said Francisco Catunda, the Brazilian charge d'affaires, as he left the building for the first time since Zelaya appeared there. 

Most people inside the embassy were in good health, Catunba said, adding that one Brazilian diplomat told him he had smelled gas the previous day, after Zelaya accused the army of trying to  intoxicate him and some 60 people still inside the compound.

Pressure and isolation

The UN Security Council on Friday warned the rebel authorities not to harass the embassy and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said that Zelaya "could stay as long as necessary for his safety" in the embassy.

In depth

Video: Honduras poor pained by coup
 Video: Family reunion for Zelaya

The de facto leaders, led by Roberto Micheletti, insisted the compound will not be taken by force and denied they were responsible for initial power and water cuts.

The interim government said it was not ready to meet with a delegation of diplomats from the Organization of American States (OAS) hoping to help mediate the crisis.

The UN froze its technical support for presidential polls scheduled for November, which appeared increasingly challenging to organise.

A daytime curfew was lifted and airports reopened allowing businesses to resume and providing relief to an increasingly frustrated public. However, a nighttime curfew remained in place.

Zelaya, a rancher who veered to the left after his election and  alliance with Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, was ousted from  power in a military-backed coup in June.

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