Page last updated at 04:10 GMT, Monday, 14 December 2009

Honduras ex-head Zelaya's meeting with Lobo is delayed

Manuel Zelaya
Manuel Zelaya was not guaranteed a safe passage out of the country

A meeting due to take place on Monday between the ousted Honduras President Manuel Zelaya and his elected successor Porfirio Lobo has been postponed.

The meeting had been arranged by President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic.

But Honduras's interim government refused to allow Mr Zelaya to travel without fear of arrest.

He has taken refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Honduras following his return to the country in September.

He refuses to accept the election of Mr Lobo as his successor, and wants to serve out the remainder of his term, due to end in January.

But Congress in Honduras voted overwhelmingly against allowing him to do so, something Mr Zelaya has said "ratifies the coup".

'Fear of arrest'

Mr Fernandez had earlier said he expected the two men to meet in Santo Domingo to discuss how to resolve the political crisis in Honduras.

But on Sunday, he said Mr Zelaya had not been given the permission he needed to leave the country without fear of arrest on charges of treason and abuse of power.

In an official statement, Mr Fernandez's office said: "The conversation... will have to be postponed until the de facto government creates the conditions for President Zelaya to leave and sustain this dialogue, as is his desire."

The statement added that the interim government, led by Roberto Micheletti, would only allow Mr Zelaya to leave the embassy as a "political refugee", the Associated Press reported.

President Leonel Fernandez
President Leonel Fernandez says the meeting has been postponed

Earlier this week the government blocked a plan for the ousted president to fly to Mexico as he refused to concede that he was no longer president.

It says he could only leave the country if he was offered formal asylum outside Central America.

Mr Zelaya told AP he was "thankful" to President Fernandez for trying to arrange a meeting but neither he or Mr Lobo had ever confirmed if the meeting with Mr Lobo had actually been organised.

Mr Zelaya's term is due to end on 27 January.

He 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 limit on serving as president 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 was up.

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