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Ousted President makes brief entry into Honduras
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11:27, July 26, 2009

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Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya on Friday returned to Nicaragua after making brief entry into Honduras at the border town of Las Manos.


Zelaya stayed on Friday in a neutral area between Honduras and Nicaragua for about one and half hour in what he called a "symbolic entry".

The deposed president said his short stay inside Honduras was an act of bravery with "prudence".

Zelaya, who was forced out of the country in a military coup on June 28, waited to talk with armed forces to find a peaceful solution to the crisis. However, he withdrew back across the border when there was no response from the other side.

He told reporters from Venezuela's Telesur, who followed him in a caravan, that the risk of bloodshed was too high as Honduran troops had been mobilized at border spots with neighboring countries to block his return.

While Zelaya approached Honduras, his supporters gathered in El Paraiso, some 10 km away from the frontier, to welcome him back.

At least two civilians were reported injured in a clash between Zelaya's supporters and anti-riot police, who used tear gas to disperse the crowd.

On Friday, at least three clashes broke out between Zelaya's supporters and security forces in border areas, despite a curfew imposed from 6 p.m. local time (2400 GMT) to 6 a.m. (1200 GMT), and 12 p.m. (0600 GMT) to 4:30 a.m. (1030 GMT) in the rest of the country.


Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya (C) holds up the chain which mark the border between Honduras and Nicaragua with his supporters at the border point of Las Manos in Honduras, on July 24, 2009

Marta Lorena Alvarado, the interim government's vice foreign minister, said in a comminuque that Zelaya's return promoted "subversion and violence" even "a bloodbath" in Honduras, saying the arrest order against him was still valid.

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya holds up the chain which marcks the border between Honduras and Nicaragua in Las Manos. Zelaya briefly stepped across the border from Nicaragua to Honduras on Friday, in a symbolic move almost a month after soldiers sent him into exile

Alvarado told TV Channel CNN in a telephone interview that Zelaya would be detained and taken to court, saying the interim government had asked the International Committee of the Red Cross to witness the whole process in a bid to show her governments respect for Zelayas human rights.

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya answers his mobile phone during a press conference after returning to the Nicaragua side at border point of Las Manos, July 24, 2009

Honduran interim Foreign Minister Carlos Lopez, said earlier that as a Honduran citizen, Zelaya would be allowed to return home where he would face 18 criminal charges.

"Zelaya has two options, to be outside (the country) or to enter and be judged," Lopez told a press conference at the Foreign Ministry building in Tegucigalpa.

Lopez on Friday criticized Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega for interfering in Honduras' internal affairs by supporting Zelaya.

He also called on the international community to join the talks as observers to solve the crisis in Honduras.


The South American Common Market (Mercosur), a regional trading bloc, strongly condemned the coup in Honduras during its summit meeting on Friday and refused to recognize the legitimacy of the country's interim government.

The Mercosur expressed support and solidarity with the Honduran people, saying that the organization would not accept any unilateral act by the country's interim authorities.

In a joint statement issued on Friday, Mercosur members demanded the immediate restoration of public order and democracy in Honduras.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Friday that Zelaya's effort to reach the border was "reckless" and would not help restore the democratic order in the country.

Media said the U.S. Department of State expects to meet Zelaya probably next Tuesday to discuss the situation in the Central American country.

Jose Miguel Insulza, General Secretary of the Organization of American States Jose Miguel Insulza, expressed his disagreement with Zelaya's return, saying that the only way to end the crisis should be a "negotiated solution".

The mediator, Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, also said Zelaya's return, was "not the way to resolve the conflict in Honduras."


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