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Zelaya's Honduras exit 'aborted'
Plans for ousted president to leave have been put on hold, de facto government says.
Last Modified: 10 Dec 2009 06:23 GMT

Zelaya has been holed up in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa since September [AFP]
 

The de facto government of Honduras has said that plans for Manuel Zelaya, the country's deposed president, to leave the Honduran capital for Mexico have been put on hold.

Sources had said on Wednesday that Zelaya, who has sheltered at the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa since returning from exile in September, was due to head to Mexico within hours.

But Carlos Lopez, Honduras's foreign minister, told Honduran television that the plan had been "aborted under current circumstances". 

Milton Mateo, a spokesman for the Honduran foreign ministry, had earlier said that Mexico had asked for a safe-conduct pass for Zelaya, and that the pass had been signed off.

Security forces alerted

Craig Mauro, an Al Jazeera correspondent who has reported on the politicial events in Honduras, said: "There was a lot of activity around the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa where Zelaya has taken refuge for the last couple of months.

"There were reports that the number of security forces there have been doubled, and that Zelaya would be leaving to take asylum in Mexico," Mauro said from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

"Since then there have been conflicting reports. Honduran aviation officials [said] that a plane is on the way from Mexico, and there [were] some reports from Mexico, quoting unnamed sources, that he has been granted asylum.

"Zelaya has just spoken to a Venezuelan television network and he has neither confirmed nor denied that he would be seeking asylum." 

The de facto government, which has held power since Zelaya was deposed on June 28, wants Zelaya to take political asylum in another country, which would restrict his political activities.

However, Zelaya seeks a status that would allow him to campaign fully for his return, Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua's president, said on Wednesday.

Political crisis

Zelaya has demanded his reinstatement since being ousted, but the country's congress voted against restoring him to power.

Fresh elections that were held last month saw Porfirio Lobo, a National Party politician, win the presidency.

Zelaya, left, has sheltered at the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa since September [AFP]

Zelaya was forced into exile after the supreme court, congress and business leaders said he acted against the constitution and tried to illegally extend limits to his term in office.

He has repeatedly denied this and pointed out that it would have been impossible to change the constitution before his term in office was complete.

Divisions in the Central American nation remain wide even after the election, which Zelaya's supporters boycotted, and nations across the Americas are also at odds over whether to recognise the poll.

"The US has said that it recognised the elections but that it was only a step forward, and that it wanted to national reconciliation," Mauro said.

"Several countiries have followed the US' lead there, but there is also a bloc, led by Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela, that refuses to recognise the elections and which is demanding that Zelaya be restored to the presidency [to serve out the rest of his term], no matter what."

Lobo, who was defeated by Zelaya in the 2005 election, has pledged to form a unity government and seek dialogue.

He is due to take office on January 27, when Zelaya's term officially ends.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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