Ousted Honduran president promises moderation


Tegucigalpa : Brazilian legislators visiting Honduras have said ousted president Manuel Zelaya has promised to adopt a more moderate tone in talking to his supporters from the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.

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A representative of the Organisation of American States (OAS) meanwhile said both Zelaya and the de facto government headed by Roberto Micheletti had expressed willingness to open a dialogue to end the crisis sparked by Zelaya’s return Sep 21.

The president, who was toppled in a June 28 coup, returned secretly to the Central American country and took refuge in the Brazilian embassy.

Zelaya had promised not to launch calls for an uprising from the embassy, and to “maintain moderation”, said Raul Jungmann, head of a delegation of Brazilian legislators who met with Zelaya Thursday.

Zelaya had called for a “final offensive” of his supporters and used slogans such as “fatherland, (his) reinstatement (as president) or death”.

The Brazilian delegation also met with Supreme Court presiding judge Jorge Rivera, who guaranteed to them that Honduran police and soldiers would not assault the embassy to arrest Zelaya.

The Honduran Supreme Court had issued the order for Zelaya’s arrest, alleging that he had been trying to change the constitution to seek another term in office.

Chilean diplomat John Biehl said after visiting Honduras that Zelaya and the Micheletti government were getting closer to dialogue.

Biehl, an OAS advisor who was able to enter Honduras while four other OAS staff were barred entry Sunday, said in Santiago de Chile that there was “a little bit less emotional behaviour and a little bit more rationality” in Honduras.

Nevertheless, “there is a very real fear on both sides that this might lead to violence such as this country has not seen in a great many years,” Biehl told the Chilean website Emol.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) meanwhile expressed concern over the treatment of more than 40 people who were arrested when police ended the three-month occupation of an agrarian institute by pro-Zelaya farmers Wednesday.

ICRC representatives visiting the detainees had found out that they were not allowed to make phone calls to their families, and were kept in poor hygienic conditions, the ICRC said in Mexico.

Daily protests have continued in Honduras, with hundreds of Zelaya supporters demonstrating near the US and Brazilian embassies and the television station Canal 36, which was closed down by the authorities.

The rallies were, however, drawing fewer people than before, observers said.