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Honduran threat to Brazil mission

September 28th, 2009
Manuel Zelaya is living in the Brazilian embassy with some of his supporters

Manuel Zelaya is living in the Brazilian embassy with some of his supporters

Honduras has threatened to revoke Brazil’s right to a diplomatic mission in a dispute over the status of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya.

Mr Zelaya took refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa after sneaking into the country on Monday, three months after he was sent into exile.

Honduras’s interim government has given Brazil 10 days to either grant Mr Zelaya asylum or hand him over.

It has also issued a decree allowing it to ban protests and reporting.

The move was announced on Sunday after Mr Zelaya called on his supporters to stage a march on Monday.

Mediators blocked

Speaking to reporters in Tegucigalpa, interim Honduran Foreign Minister Carlos Lopez said: “If the status of Zelaya is not [resolved] within 10 days, the [Brazilian] embassy will lose its diplomatic condition.”

Mr Lopez also reiterated that his government had no intention of raiding the mission.

Brazil had earlier said it would not comply with a demand from Honduras to “define the status” of Mr Zelaya.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said the embassy was protected by international law.

Mr Zelaya faces a number of charges if handed over, including treason.

The UN Security Council has called on the Honduras interim government to “cease harassing” the Brazilian embassy.

Meanwhile, the interim government denied entry to a group of four diplomats seeking to mediate in the crisis.

The group, some of whom were representatives of the Organization of American States (OAS), had been sent to lay the groundwork for mediation efforts between the two sides.

The OAS suspended Honduras in July after Mr Zelaya was ousted, and government spokesman Rene Zapeda told the Associated Pres the diplomats’ visas were revoked in retaliation for this.

Mr Zelaya was forced out at gunpoint at the end of June, after he announced plans to hold a non-binding public consultation to ask people whether they 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.

A new presidential election is planned for November.

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