Manuel Zelaya, the ousted president of Honduras, has addressed the UN General Assembly by telephone, appealing to the world body to restore the rule of law in his country.
"I call on the United Nations to restore the rule of law and the freedom that Honduras deserves," he said on Monday from the Brazilian embassy in the capital Tegucigalpa, where he is currently sheltered, over a mobile phone held by Patricia Rodas, his foreign minister.
"Anybody who had any doubt that a dictatorship is taking hold of my country, now with what has happened in the last 93 days of repression, I think any of those doubts that might have existed are dispelled."
In the surprise telephone intervention that lasted a few minutes, Zelaya also said that "Honduras is being subject to fascist rule," referring to recent moves by
the interim government running Honduras to silence opposition media outlets.
Zelaya has been holed up for a week in the Brazilian embassy, which is besieged by forces loyal to the interim government that took power after Zelaya was deposed on June 28.
The de facto government, which is headed by Roberto Micheletti, upped the ante on Sunday, threatening to close Brazil's embassy for harbouring Zelaya and denying entry to four mediators from the Organisation of American States (OAS).
The interim government also announced stricts limits on civil liberties for 45 days and shut down a radio station aligned with Zelaya. A television channel was also taken off-air.
Micheletti said late on Monday that he may move to restore civil liberties and re-open television and radio stations loyal to Zelaya by the end of the week.
He said that he wanted to "ask the Honduran people for forgiveness'' for the restrictions his government imposed.
|Honduran soldiers had raided a radio
station allied to Zelaya [Reuters]
Micheletti said he would discuss lifting the measures with court officials "as soon as possible," adding: "By the end of this week we'll have this resolved.''
He also repeated his pledge not to attack the Brazilian embassy, and even sent "a big hug'' to Brazil's president, a day after giving him a 10-day ultimatum to expel Zelaya or move him to Brazil.
His government also said it would welcome an advance team from the OAS into the country from Friday and said an OAS commission of foreign ministers could visit on October 7.
Zelaya was forced from the presidential palace and into exile on the same day that he planned to hold a non-binding referendum on the constitution.
Opposition politicians, the supreme court and the military accused Zelaya of trying to win support for an extension to his single term as president.
Zelaya denied those claims, saying that the public vote was aimed at constitutional reforms necessary to improve the lives of the poor.