Page last updated at 11:18 GMT, Wednesday, 30 September 2009 12:18 UK

Honduras army chief urges talks

Gen Romeo Vasquez Velasquez on 15 September
Gen Vasquez was sacked in June by Mr Zelaya but quickly reinstated

The head of the Honduran armed forces, who oversaw the removal of President Manuel Zelaya from the country, has urged talks on the political crisis.

Gen Romeo Vasquez Velasquez told reporters he was confident that the political stand-off could be resolved.

Mr Zelaya made a dramatic return from exile on 21 September and is holed up in the Brazilian embassy.

The interim government is meanwhile coming under pressure to revoke a decree that suspended civil liberties.

Members of Congress have indicated they will act to rescind the order if the government of interim leader Roberto Micheletti does not.

The measures, which allow unauthorised public meetings to be banned and news media to be temporarily closed down, were introduced at the weekend in response to a call for protests by Mr Zelaya.

However, amid concern that the elections scheduled for 29 November could be affected, Mr Micheletti on Monday indicated the decree could soon be lifted.

Rigoberto Chang, a congressman from the conservative National Party, told the Associated Press they had not been consulted about the security decree.

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

He also criticised the decision to close two pro-Zelaya broadcasters.

"It's less damaging to talk on the television or radio than being on the streets throwing stones," Mr Chang said.

His comments appear to point to widening splits among those who initially supported Mr Zelaya's removal from power and backed the interim government, correspondents say.

On Tuesday, a central figure in the political drama, Gen Vasquez, reappeared on the scene, being interviewed on local television and then visiting a hotel where many foreign journalists are staying.

"All sectors of society should put aside their difference to unite the homeland," Gen Vasquez said, adding that he was hopeful the crisis could soon be resolved.

Gen Zelaya was sacked on 25 June by Mr Zelaya after refusing to allow soldiers to give logistical support to a vote on constitutional change.

The Supreme Court had declared the vote, which Mr Zelaya said was a non-binding public consultation, unconstitutional.

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

'No help'

Events moved quickly after that, culminating in the army being sent by Congress to arrest Mr Zelaya and fly him out of the country.

Gen Vasquez insisted it was not the idea of the armed forces to oust Mr Zelaya.

"Otherwise I would be head of state, and I am not, but rather subordinate to the civilian authorities," he said.

That view is disputed by some Hondurans.

"Those who give orders here are the military. Nothing happens here that doesn't go through him [Gen Vasquez]," David Romero, director of Radio Globo which has been shut down, told BBC Mundo.

Hundreds of soldiers and riot police are still surrounding the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.

The Brazilian government has defended its decision to allow Mr Zelaya to take refuge there but insists it did not help him to return to Honduras.

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