Page last updated at 09:40 GMT, Tuesday, 22 September 2009 10:40 UK

Honduras urged to avoid violence

Mr Zelaya greeted his supporters from the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa

The European Union has added its voice to appeals for calm in Honduras after the dramatic return of ousted president Manuel Zelaya raised fears of violence.

An EU statement called on Mr Zelaya and the interim government to negotiate an end to the three-month crisis.

Thousands of people defied a curfew to demonstrate their support for Mr Zelaya outside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa where he has taken refuge.

Interim leader Roberto Micheletti insisted Mr Zelaya should face trial.

The daring return of Mr Zelaya took officials by surprise, with Mr Micheletti at first denying the deposed leader was in the country.

A round-the-clock curfew until Tuesday evening was imposed, airports shut and police and soldiers put on standby.

28 June: Zelaya forced out of country at gunpoint
5 July: A dramatic bid by Zelaya to return home by plane fails after the runway at Tegucigalpa airport is blocked
25-26 July: Zelaya briefly crosses into the country at the land border with Nicaragua on two consecutive days, in a symbolic move to demand he be allowed to return
21 Sept: Zelaya appears in the Brazilian embassy in Tegulcigalpa

Mr Micheletti said Brazil would be held responsible for any violence and demanded that the deposed leader be handed over.

"A call to the government of Brazil: respect the judicial order against Mr Zelaya and turn him in to Honduran authorities," he said.

But Brazil's Foreign Minister Celso Amorim warned that any threat to Mr Zelaya or the Brazilian embassy would be a grave breach of international law.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Mr Zelaya's return must not lead to violence.

"It's imperative that dialogue begin... [that] there be a channel of communication between President Zelaya and the de facto regime in Honduras," she said.

Mrs Clinton spoke in New York after talks on Monday with Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, who has brokered failed peace talks between the two Honduran parties.


In a statement on Tuesday, the EU presidency stressed the importance of a negotiated settlement.

"The European Union urges all concerned to refrain from any action that might increase tension and violence," the statement said.

In images broadcast on national television, a smiling Mr Zelaya wearing his trademark white cowboy hat appeared on the balcony of the Brazilian embassy waving to a crowd of supporters.

Map of city

Mr Zelaya has been living in exile in Nicaragua since 28 June when he was taken from the presidential place at gunpoint and flown out of Honduras.

Charles Scanlon
Charles Scanlon, BBC Americas analyst

It looks like the nightmare scenario for the coup leaders. They've done everything in their power to prevent Manuel Zelaya's return - sending soldiers to prevent his plane landing in the days after the coup, and later to the border to stop him crossing from Nicaragua.

The confirmation that Mr Zelaya is back will have come as a humiliation for Roberto Micheletti and damaged his authority inside the country.

The interim government has been condemned around the world for the coup, but has consolidated its control. Mr Zelaya's return now brings the crisis back to the boil.

The interim government has been playing for time - hoping to cling to power until new elections set for November. It is no longer in control of events and looks more vulnerable than at any time since the coup.

The crisis erupted after Mr Zelaya tried to hold a non-binding public consultation to ask people whether they supported moves to change the constitution, a vote ruled illegal by the Supreme Court and the National Congress.

The US has backed Mr Zelaya during his exile and criticised the interim leaders for failing to restore "democratic, constitutional rule".

The Organization of American States (OAS) has demanded Mr Zelaya's reinstatement.

Speaking to the BBC from inside the Brazilian embassy, Mr Zelaya said he had received support from various quarters in order to return.

"[We travelled] for more than 15 hours... through rivers and mountains until we reached the capital of Honduras," he said.

"We overcame military and police obstacles, all those on the highways here, because this country has been kidnapped by the military forces."

He said he was consulting sectors of Honduran society and the international community in order "to start the dialogue for the reconstruction of the Honduran democracy".


The interim government has repeatedly threatened to arrest Mr Zelaya, should he return, and charge him with corruption.

The OAS, meeting in emergency session, called for calm.

In a statement, OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza told Honduran authorities they were responsible for the security of Mr Zelaya and the Brazilian embassy.

Mr Insulza said that he was ready to travel to Honduras as soon as possible.

Mr Micheletti has has vowed to step aside after presidential elections are held on 29 November. But he has refused to allow Mr Zelaya to return to office in the interim.

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