Deposed Honduran President Jose Manual Zelaya, holed up in the Brazilian Embassy in the Honduran capital of Tegucigalpa, said Thursday that he would stay there “as long as it takes.”
In an interview with CNN’s Rick Sanchez, Zelaya, who was ousted in a June 28 coup, said he had never lost the title of president. “I am the president of Honduras, and I’ll stay here in the Brazilian Embassy as long as it takes,” he said without elaborating. Zelaya made a surprise reappearance in Honduras this week and has been staying in the Brazilian embassy since Monday. He did not divulge details as to how he arrived in the country. He told CNN en Espaol this week that it was a 15- to 16-hour trip he took “with the help of Hondurans.” De facto President Roberto Micheletti told Sanchez that his government is not in contact with the Brazilian government but said Zelaya would not be removed from the embassy. “We are serious people,” he said. “We’re going to let him stay wherever he wants.” Micheletti said this week that Zelaya would be arrested and face charges for violating the constitution if he left the embassy.
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“President Zelaya should present himself before the tribunals of justice in our country, where he has charges against him,” Micheletti told CNN en Espaol on Wednesday. Zelaya has denied violating the constitution. This week, local reports cited police officials as saying that authorities turned off power to the embassy and surrounding area, ostensibly to discourage looting, but Micheletti has said that a congregation of pro-Zelaya protesters at the embassy short-circuited the power themselves. On Thursday, he again denied turning off the power. Asked whether he would allow CNN to enter the embassy to interview Zelaya, Micheletti said, “Please, please. I beg you. Come down here. But don’t just stay only in the Brazilian Embassy. Go to all over the country and find out the real true country. Please, come.” Previously, CNN’s John Zarrella said authorities would not let him into the embassy to interview Zelaya. Watch Zarrella report on the situation in Honduras A nationwide curfew was lifted Wednesday, but a security cordon remained in the area around the embassy. Micheletti said the police were there because the people inside the embassy requested the protection and said, “We are not impeding the exit nor the entrance of absolutely anybody.” Zelaya’s announced return has reignited a standoff between the two disputed leaders of Honduras. Brazil now finds itself involved because of its embassy. Brazil wants an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the situation, the official Brazilian news agency reported. In another development, Micheletti said he is willing to meet anywhere with Zelaya as long as Zelaya agrees to abide by presidential elections scheduled for November 29.
But the de facto leader said in a statement read by his foreign minister Tuesday that his offer to talk with Zelaya does not nullify the arrest warrant issued against the ousted president by the nation’s Supreme Court. The de facto government argues that Zelaya was not removed in a coup but in a constitutional transfer of power.