Brazil’s Lula Again Calls on Honduras President to Step Down

Honduras president Roberto Micheletti Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, president of Brazil, once again reiterated that the Honduras's interim government is illegitimate, and called for de facto president Roberto Micheletti and his administration to step down.

Speaking to reporters in Stockholm, Sweden, the Brazilian president said the crisis in Honduras would be solved if the leaders of the June 28 coup simply left office and returned democratically-elected president Manuel Zelaya to office.

"For us the solution in Honduras is quite simple: those who participated in the coup should leave office and allow the return of President Zelaya so that elections can take place next November, as scheduled and the problem would then have been solved".

"The only difficulty is that there's a president that shouldn't be there." he added standing next to Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, and currently rotating president of EU, and the head of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso.

The Brazilian president visited Stockholm for a summit with EU leaders in anticipation of the Copenhagen climate change conference.

Zelaya has been holed up in the Brazilian embassy since his surprise return to Honduras last month. President Lula said that Zelaya is a "guest" of the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.

On Monday, interim Honduran President Roberto Micheletti lifted a week-old emergency decree that had restricted civil liberties. The revocation order was expected to take effect when published in the government's official gazette.

Micheletti has been under intense international pressure to negotiate an end to the political crisis stemming from Zelaya's ouster in the June coup. A mission from the Organization of American States is in Honduras for meetings on the political crisis.

The United States and other nations have condemned Zelaya's overthrow. Washington also has revoked the visas of Honduran officials and cut aid to the Central American country.

The de-facto government says Mr. Zelaya was ousted because he was trying to illegally change the constitution to extend his term in office.

Press Freedom

The head of the United Nations agency tasked with defending press freedom today welcomed the decision by the de-facto authorities in Honduras to lift an emergency decree imposing restrictions on freedom of expression in the wake of the surprised return of the ousted President.

Koí¯chiro Matsuura, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), said that he hoped
the "wise decision" by the de facto government in the Central American country "will bear fruit for the benefit of all Hondurans."

Last week Mr. Matsuura had voiced concern about the decree, which authorized the National Telecommunications Commission to suspend media outlets blamed for broadcasting messages that were hostile to the decisions of the authorities.

UN human rights officials have also spoken out in recent days about the suppression of civil liberties in Honduras in the months following the June ousting of President José Manuel Zelaya in a coup d'
état.

Mr. Zelaya made a surprise return to Honduras on 21 September, and has sought shelter in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, the capital.

Mr. Matsuura said in his statement today that the fact that the restrictions on freedom of expression are being lifted "augurs well for the chance of a peaceful end to tensions in the country.

"Indeed, open and informed debate is an important condition for democracy and good governance," he added.

MP/UN

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