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Page last updated at 08:48 GMT, Tuesday, 29 September 2009 09:48 UK

Honduras 'may restore liberties'

Police in Tegucigalpa, Honduras (28 September 2009)
Hundreds of soldiers are surrounding the Brazilian embassy

The interim leader of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, has said civil liberties could soon be restored in the country.

They were suspended in response to a call for protests by deposed President Manuel Zelaya, who remains holed up in the Brazilian embassy in the capital.

Mr Zelaya, addressing the UN General Assembly by phone, appealed for help to reverse "the dictatorship" in Honduras.

The interim authorities have invited the Organisation of American States (OAS) to return to Honduras for talks.

A group of four diplomats - including some OAS representatives - were turned away by the interim government at the weekend.

Speaking to the UN General Assembly by telephone, Mr Zelaya decried the suspension of civil liberties.

"If there was any doubt that what we have here is a dictatorship, now with everything that has happened in these past 93 days of repression, I believe those doubts no longer exist," he said.

The emergency measures were put in place on Sunday after Mr Zelaya urged his supporters to converge on the capital, Tegucigalpa, in what he called a "final offensive".

The measures, which allow unauthorised public meetings to be banned and news media to be temporarily closed down, were intended to last 45 days.

It would be a disaster if any action were taken to violate international law
Lynn Pascoe

Two media outlets critical of the interim government - Radio Globo and Cholusat Sur TV - have been shut.

On Monday, Mr Micheletti said there were concerns the decree "could affect the elections", planned to take place in November.

"If it's necessary, we'll revoke it," he said.

Mr Micheletti he would discuss the matter with Congress "as soon as possible" and that "by the end of this week we'll have this resolved," the AP news agency quoted him as saying.

'Serious problem'

Hundreds of soldiers and riot police are still surrounding the Brazilian embassy compound in Tegucigalpa, where Mr Zelaya has been living since his dramatic return to Honduras last week.

TIMELINE: ZELAYA OUSTED
Deposed Honduras President Manuel Zelaya in Tegucigalpa (28 September 2009)
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 from Nicaragua on two consecutive days
21 Sept: Zelaya appears in the Brazilian embassy in Tegulcigalpa
27 Sept: Honduras issues 10-day ultimatum to Brazil and threatens to close embassy

On Sunday, the interim government gave Brazil 10 days to either grant Mr Zelaya asylum or hand him over. Mr Micheletti said Brazil could lose its right to a diplomatic mission in Honduras.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he would ignore the threat but the UN Undersecretary General for Political Affairs said they were "a very serious problem".

"It would be a disaster if any action were taken to violate international law on the inviolability of the embassies," said Lynn Pascoe.

Mr Micheletti said there would be no move to remove Mr Zelaya from the embassy by force.

The interim government had also said it is inviting representatives of the OAS to return to Honduras after turning them away on Sunday.

A statement said an OAS delegation was being invited to the country on 7 October to try to re-establish negotiations with Mr Zelaya and that a preparatory mission would be allowed to enter Honduras on 2 October.

Mr Zelaya was forced from office at gunpoint after announcing plans to hold a non-binding public consultation on whether people supported moves to change the constitution.

His opponents said the move was unconstitutional and was aimed at removing the current one-term limit on serving as president, so paving the way for Mr Zelaya's possible re-election. He has denied this.



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