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Page last updated at 07:14 GMT, Wednesday, 23 September 2009 08:14 UK

Hondurans wait for crisis to unfold

By Arturo Wallace
BBC Mundo

A policeman stands outide a sandwich shop scrawled with the words "Mel arrived"
"Mel arrived": The return of Manuel Zelaya prompted a curfew

A city of empty streets, mainly silent except for the sound of police helicopters flying overhead now and again.

That is the situation in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, described to BBC Mundo by some of its residents more than a day after the dramatic return of the deposed president, Manuel Zelaya.

Mr Zelaya took refuge in the Brazilian embassy, outside of which hundreds of his supporters gathered, before they were dispersed by police and troops on Tuesday.

It is not known how many people may have been arrested, according to freelance journalist Manuel Torres, but in his mind, there is no doubt Honduras "is going through its worst days since 28 June", a reference to the day Mr Zelaya was arrested by soldiers and flown out of the country.

"The country is in jail," Mr Torres said, a reference to the curfew imposed by interim President Roberto Micheletti across the country a few hours after Mr Zelaya made his surprise return on Monday.

"They have suspended constitutional guarantees, so the national energy company has been taken over by the military which allows them to suspend the service as they wish," said Mr Torres.

Supplies low

Gilda Silves, a journalist with the El Patriota newspaper, says the capital is surrounded by tanks, soldiers and police to prevent the arrival of Mr Zelaya's supporters from other parts of the country.

"It was quite a drastic curfew. People barely had time to get back home," said Tegucigalpa resident Juan Pablo Carias.

"Unlike other times, this time there was no time to get provisions in," he said.

"You don't know what to expect, so you expect the impossible. There could be a political agreement or Mr Zelaya's arrest.

"But for now, the support for what they [the interim government] call 'a constitutional succession' seems solid."

For Manuel Torres, the hopes that some may have had that Mr Zelaya's return would be the signal for a "counter-coup" have faded, but he does not discard the possibility of talks.

A protester sits on a rock at a road block in Teugcigalpa
The crisis over Mr Zelaya's fate has divided Hondurans

"It's not clear but there are some signs," he said.

How people react if the curfew is prolonged for more time remains to be seen.

"There are those who oppose the coup [the removal of Mr Zelaya] who are trying to disobey and confront the military controls," said Mr Torres.

"But there are others who reject what's happened from their own neighbourhoods and homes. That is, they are not staying indoors but are using corner shops as places to meet and talk," said Mr Torres.

However, reports say shops are running low on supplies and supermarkets are closed.

It seems hard to think the current situation can go on for long, but in Tegucigalpa no-one is daring to predict how it will be resolved.



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