Page last updated at 16:22 GMT, Thursday, 10 December 2009

Manuel Zelaya exile move from Honduras 'postponed'

Manuel Zelaya in the Brazilian embassy on 3 December
Mr Zelaya has been in the embassy for almost three months

Plans for ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to leave for exile in Mexico are on hold, the interim government of Honduras has said.

Mr Zelaya was removed from power in June and forced into exile but later returned and took refuge in the Brazilian embassy in the capital.

Officials said Mr Zelaya had to apply for political asylum before leaving.

Mr Zelaya, who insists he is still the president, said would not leave the country as a political refugee.

He has refused to accept the legitimacy of presidential elections held last month, which were won by Porfirio Lobo.

The Honduran Congress voted not to allow Mr Zelaya to serve out his last two months of office.

'Electoral fraud'

On Wednesday, there were conflicting reports about the negotiations between the government and Mr Zelaya for him to leave the country.

Sources close to the ousted leader initially said he wanted to go but had not confirmed whether he would be allowed safe passage and under what terms he would travel.

Police outside the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, Honduras (27 Nov 2009)
The area around the embassy is heavily guarded

Mr Zelaya told BBC Mundo he would not leave the country as an asylum seeker.

"I haven't requested asylum, I don't want asylum and I won't accept asylum," he said.

Correspondents say that claiming asylum could reduce Mr Zelaya's ability to conduct political activities from abroad.

Mr Zelaya said he wanted a negotiated solution that would allow him to continue political actions abroad before agreeing to leave.

"When the dignity and the office of the president are respected, I will be ready to have talks with those interested in seeking a solution for Honduran democracy," he said.

A Honduran foreign ministry spokesman said a safe-conduct pass had been signed, which would have enabled Mr Zelaya to leave.

But reports later emerged that no agreement had been reached on the means and terms of Mr Zelaya's departure.

Mr Zelaya has been living in the Brazilian embassy since returning to Honduras from exile on 21 September.

Conditions inside the embassy are reported to be uncomfortable and the building is surrounded by soldiers and armed police.

'Honduran reality'

After his election victory on 29 November, Mr Lobo pledged to form a unity government and seek dialogue.

Supporters of Honduras ousted President Manuel Zelaya hold a banner that reads "Resistence" as they shout slogans during a protest in Tegucigalpa (2 Nov 2009)

He also urged the international community to "understand the Honduran reality and stop punishing the country".

The US said the election were "a necessary and important step forward" for Honduras, and indicated it would accept the result, but some Latin American nations, including Brazil, refused to recognise the poll.

Mr Zelaya was forced into exile on 28 June after trying to hold a vote on whether a constituent assembly should be set up to look at rewriting the constitution.

His critics said the vote, which was ruled illegal by the Supreme Court, aimed to remove the current one-term presidency limit and pave the way for his possible re-election.

Mr Zelaya has repeatedly denied this and pointed out that it would have been impossible to change the constitution before his term in office expired on 27 January.

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Reuters UK Honduran coup leaders want Zelaya to make pledge - 28 mins ago Honduras: Zelaya Must Leave Country as Private Citizen - 2 hrs ago Manuel Zelaya refuses to leave Honduras as asylum seeker - 4 hrs ago
SINA Honduras to let Zelaya leave country for Mexico - 7 hrs ago
Melbourne Age Honduras to let Zelaya leave country - 14 hrs ago

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