Page last updated at 08:34 GMT, Monday, 6 July 2009 09:34 UK

Zelaya's jet blocked in Honduras


Honduran troops fire tear gas at Zelaya supporters

Honduras's ousted President, Manuel Zelaya, has failed in a dramatic attempt to fly back to his country.

His plane circled the Tegucigalpa airport, but it could not land as the authorities had blocked the runway.

Earlier at least two people were killed as troops fended off Zelaya supporters converging on the airport.

Mr Zelaya, who was ousted a week ago, has now arrived in neighbouring El Salvador where he is due to meet regional leaders, who support him.

Mr Zelaya departed from Washington and was hoping to fly home, despite warnings from the self-declared interim government that he would not be allowed to land.

If I had a parachute I would immediately jump out of this plane
Manuel Zelaya
ousted Honduran president

After several failed attempts to touch down at Tegucigalpa airport, where military vehicles were placed on the runway, the plane eventually flew to Nicaragua, where Mr Zelaya met President Daniel Ortega.

The deposed Honduran leader went on to El Salvador where he was due to meet the presidents of Argentina, Ecuador and Paraguay and the head of the Organization of American States (OAS).

The new government, which said it came to power through due legal process, is offering to negotiate with the international community, the BBC's Stephen Gibbs reports from Tegucigalpa.

But it says one thing is not negotiable and that is the return of Mr Zelaya to the presidency, our correspondent says.

Two dead

As the plane was flying towards Tegicugalpa, troops in riot gear fired tear gas at thousands of Zelaya supporters, some of whom reportedly hurled stones.

President Zelaya planned non-binding public consultation on constitutional change
Critics say he wanted to stay in power
28 June: Troops seize and expel Zelaya; parliamentary speaker becomes interim leader
29 June: US President Obama condemns the overthrow as illegal
4 July: Organization of American States suspends Honduras in protest at overthrow
5 July: Mr Zelaya's jet is turned back from Honduras and clashes with troops leave at least one person dead

Thousands managed to break through the security cordon.

Hospital sources and police said at least two people had been killed and a number had been injured.

After Mr Zelaya's plane was turned away, his supporters began chanting "We want blue helmets!", meaning UN peacekeepers.

Zelaya supporter Karin Antunez, 27, was in tears.

"We feel sad because these coup soldiers won't let Mel [Mr Zelaya's nickname] return, but we're not going to back down," she said.

"We're going to keep marching so that our president comes home."

Human rights activist Matias Sauceda, 65, said: "This is a war. Imagine - things are so bad, that the president is in the air and they don't let him land."

The new government has imposed a sunset-to-sunrise curfew.

OAS acts

Speaking earlier from the plane, Mr Zelaya said troops had threatened action against the aircraft if it tried to land.

Ousted President Manuel Zelaya, pictured on 2 July
Manuel Zelaya says he remains the democratically elected leader

"I'm doing everything I can," Mr Zelaya said. "If I had a parachute I would immediately jump out of this plane."

The military - backed by Congress and the courts - forced Mr Zelaya out of Honduras on 28 June over his plans to hold a vote on possible constitutional change.

"We are the authentic representatives of the people," interim president Roberto Micheletti insisted.

On Saturday, the OAS suspended Honduras - the first time the organisation had taken such a measure since Cuba was suspended in 1962, when it allied itself with the USSR.

Mr Zelaya is a supporter of left-wing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

His opponents, which include the Supreme Court and a majority in parliament, accuse him of seeking to prolong his rule.

He had wanted to hold a popular vote on convening a constitutional convention - a move that could have removed the current one-term limit for presidents.

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