Amid Pressure to Let Zelaya Leave Honduras Brazil Says He Can Stay at Embassy

Zelaya plays his guitar at Brazilian embassy Porfirio Lobo, Honduras president elect, said on Sunday he is committed to enable ousted president Manuel Zelaya to leave the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, where he remains under refuge following a frustrated attempt last week.

Honduras now made it clear what it will accept: "It was decided at the highest level of government: it will be a territorial asylum and he may not go to any nation which borders Honduras, ie that is in Central America," said the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Milton Mateo.

According to the Honduran government, Zelaya will not be allowed to travel to Guatemala, El Salvador, Nicaragua or Costa Rica. "He must select another country, but none in Central America," stressed Mateo.

Lobo said he had plans to meet this week with Zelaya in the Dominican Republic, but the planned exit of Zelaya to Mexico last Wednesday was canceled.

The Mexican government sent an aircraft to Honduras to pick up Zelaya and his family but he was impeded from leaving when the de facto regime, under Roberto Micheletti, said he could only depart with political asylum status.

Zelaya who sneaked back into Honduras in September, after having been ousted by a coup June 28th was planning to travel to Mexico as "distinguished visitor" but the de facto regime demanded he officially resign to his reinstatement claims.

"I will help all that is possible to facilitate the exit of former president Mel Zelaya but I must insist that the safe-conduct (to leave the country) and the amnesty and its terms are a decision from the authorities", said Lobo on his return to Honduras from Miami.

Meantime the Dominican Republic presidency said in a release that the "talks between Lobo and Zelaya will have to be postponed until the de facto government creates the conditions for president Zelaya to leave and hold talks, as is his wish".

Lobo thanked Dominica president Leonel Fernandez but "for the moment, as you know, there will be no meeting".

Zelaya has a pending arrest warrant allegedly for violation of the Honduran Constitution for having tried to organize the day he was ousted, a popular consultation that would have opened the way for a possible re-election, but which had been specifically banned by a judge.

From Lima Peruvian President Alan Garcia and his Brazilian peer Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva condemned the regime of Honduras for not allowing  Zelaya to fly to Mexico.

"The presidents condemn in the most emphatic way the unacceptable negative by the de facto authorities from Honduras to grant an exit safe-conduct for Mexico to the constitutional president Manuel Zelaya Rosales," according to a joint statement.

Garcia and Lula said such an attitude was completely contrary to International Law. The frustrated trip to Mexico was in the context of ongoing efforts to reach a solution for dialogue, in conformity with OAS resolutions".

The Mexican government said on Sunday it was prepared to grant ousted president Zelaya any "migratory figure" that helps end the crisis.

"We are willing to grant any of the figures contemplated in our legislation, but we also believe it is something to be defined when transfer is effectively taking place" said Chancellor Patricia Espinosa.

Meantime the Spanish government praised and gave full support to talks between president elect Lobo and ousted president Zelaya.

"We are hopeful of a national dialogue that will help definitively overcome the Honduran crisis" said the Spanish government adding that in permanent coordination with "our partners in Latin America, Europe and United States, we will continue with all necessary collaboration to make possible this great national accord in Honduras which the international community is demanding".

Lobo and Zelaya

Honduras president elect Porfirio Lobo and ousted leader Manuel Zelaya had agreed to meet in the Dominican Republic to begin a "political dialogue" which would help the country solve the current political crisis, according to an announcement by Dominican president Leonel Fernández.

"We hope that with there won't be any difficulties for President Zelaya to leave Honduras and no conditions or obstructions established by the de facto government so that he can travel to the Dominican Republic," pointed out Fernández on Friday.

The Dominican president said he trusts this formula will help "overcome the situation" Honduras has been suffering since the June 28th coup. He added that the "face to face" reunion will be preceded by meetings he will be holding with both leaders.

Meanwhile the Brazilian Foreign Office denied it had told Zelaya he must leave the embassy in Tegucigalpa, where he remains holed in, by January 27th when his presidential mandate officially ends.

"Foreign Secretary Celso Amorim has always stated Zelaya can remain for as long as necessary," said an Itamaraty spokesperson in Brazilian capital Brasilia.

The spokesperson said that there had been a "misinterpretation" of the words from the Brazilian embassy chargé d'affaires in Tegucigalpa, Francisco Catunda, who had been quoted saying Zelaya had to leave by January 27th when president elect Lobo officially takes office.

Catunda was quoted saying that Zelaya was well aware that next January 27th a new government takes office and since his mandate will be finalized "he will have to find a new destination."

The Itamaraty spokesperson said that although it is "clear" that Zelaya's mandate is over next January 27th, "that does not mean that he must automatically leave the embassy."

Brazil's main television network O  Globo interviewed ousted Zelaya who confirmed he has plans to leave the embassy before that date.

"My position is to leave as soon as possible, obviously with the support from the Brazilian government," Zelaya told O  Globo.

Zelaya was ousted in a coup last June 28th and since then all Latin America countries have demanded his reinstatement as legitimate elected president. However the countries are divided regarding the results of November 29th elections when a new president was elected, according to the political calendar of the country.

United States and several other countries accept the election results which were won by Conservative candidate Porfirio Lobo as a way back to "democratic normalization", while Brazil, Argentina, Venezuela and the rest of the continent argue that elections under a de facto government can only be "illegitimate".

Meantime Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States, OAS, claimed there are those who insist in deepening the situation apparently with the intention of conditioning the government of president elect Lobo.

Earlier this week Zelaya was ready to leave for Mexico which had sent the presidential Boeing to pick him up. But at last minute the de facto government of Roberto Micheletti demanded Zelaya resign as president before leaving the country. Zelaya refused point blank and the Mexican aircraft was banned from landing in Tegucigalpa

"There are still people who don't want a solution to the problem, they insist on the hard line on to the very end and thus condition the incoming administration of the new president", said Insulza.

The OAS secretary general also underlined that "no government in the world has recognized or accepted the de facto regime of Micheletti, not even the US. Never before has there been such a unanimous condemnation".

But he said there are a number of countries willing to recognize the elections and president elect Lobo, which is positive and "a sovereign decision of each country, but no one must sit to talk with Micheletti".

Zelaya has admitted he has had contacts with Lobo and called on his supporters from the "coup resistance organization" to demobilize and begin campaigning for constitutional reform, which was the issue that triggered the institutional crisis in first place.

Zelaya and president elect Lobo although political rivals have a close personal relation: in 2006 the Liberal party with Zelaya defeated by a slight margin Conservative candidate Porfirio Lobo.



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