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Honduras Clears Out Zelaya Supporters

By VOA News
30 September 2009

Honduran police have begun removing supporters of deposed President Manuel Zelaya from government office buildings where they have been camped out to protest his June 28 ouster.

Police surrounded the National Agrarian Institute in the capital of Tegucigalpa Wednesday and removed about 55 Zelaya supporters. Farm workers had been using the building as temporary housing so they could take part in protests.

The police acted under the interim government's controversial decree restricting free speech and the right to freely assemble.

Pressure has been mounting on the de facto authorities to restore civil liberties and negotiate an end to the three-month-long political crisis.

Adolfo Facusse, the leader of an influential business group, has proposed allowing Mr. Zelaya to be reinstated with limited powers, under a plan brokered by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias. Facusse also wants the ousted president to face prosecution on corruption charges.

The proposal suggests interim President Roberto Micheletti is losing support among the internal factions that supported Mr. Zelaya's removal.

Mr. Micheletti has been denounced by the international community since he imposed the decree restricting civil liberties and shut down two broadcast outlets (Radio Globo and TV Channel 36) allegedly tied to Mr. Zelaya.

The action followed Mr. Zelaya's secret return to Honduras last week. The ousted leader has been holed up in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa ever since, and Mr. Micheletti has given Brazil 10 days to define his status.

On Tuesday, a U.S. State Department spokesman, P.J. Crowley, said it is time for the de facto government to have dialogue with Mr. Zelaya. He said the United States welcomes ongoing efforts by the Organization of American States to seek a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

The interim government says it forced Mr. Zelaya out of office because he was trying to illegally change the constitution in order to extend his time in power.

Costa Rican President Arias said Tuesday that presidential elections scheduled for late November in Honduras will not be internationally recognized as long as Mr. Micheletti remains in charge.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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