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Page last updated at 21:07 GMT, Monday, 5 October 2009 22:07 UK

Honduras lifts emergency decree

Honduras' ousted President Manuel Zelaya
Restrictions were imposed after Zelaya returned in September

Honduras' interim leader has lifted an emergency decree imposed after the country's ousted President Manuel Zelaya returned to the country.

The decree suspended some civil liberties and also shut down two radio stations loyal to the president.

But Roberto Micheletti told a new conference the ruling had now been "completely overturned".

Mr Zelaya returned to Honduras two weeks ago, taking refuge in Brazil's embassy in the capital, Tegucigalpa.

"We've abolished the decree in the Council of Ministers," said Mr Micheletti.

He was joined for the announcement by US Congresswoman leana Ros-Lehtinen, a Florida Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Earlier, Mr Micheletti said the 45-day decree, issued in late September as protests broke out following President Zelaya's return, was no longer needed as "there is peace" in the country.

Under the emergency legislation, gatherings of more than 20 people were banned, and freedom of movement and speech was limited.

The emergency decree was condemned internationally, and those supporting the ousted president had demanded that it be lifted before negotiations between Mr Zelaya and the interim leader could begin.

Negotations

Talks, brokered by the Organisation of American States, are due to take place this week.

Soldiers stand guard near the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras (29 Sept 2009)

The BBC's Charles Scanlon, in the region, says Mr Micheletti appears to be hinting at concessions to Mr Zelaya and his supporters.

The interim government has previously refused to contemplate Mr Zelaya's key demand - that he be allowed to return to office - but even that now appears to be negotiable, says our correspondent.

Mr Micheletti told reporters: "If there are transparent elections in the country and we elect a new president, we can talk about any scenario, any solution."

Mr Zelaya was deposed in June after he angered the country's powerful conservatives by supporting left-wing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

His opponents accused him of seeking to change the constitution to extend his term in office - an allegation he denies.

Mr Zelaya, along with dozens of supporters and members of his family, remains holed up in the Brazilian embassy compound, which is surrounded by Honduran troops.



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