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Demonstrations, Counter Protests Expected in Honduras


Both the interim government of Honduras and supporters of ousted President Manuel Zelaya plan demonstrations for Tuesday in the Central American nation's capital, Tegucigalpa. This follows a shooting incident on Sunday in which at least one person died and several others were wounded. But most of the country remains tense, but calm despite of the political division gripping the country.

Speaking in a televised address, interim President Roberto Micheletti on Monday called on citizens to rally Tuesday morning in support of democracy. He said his top priority is the defense of Honduran democracy.

Mr. Micheletti and other officials who backed the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya a little more than a week ago say the action was legal in that it had been ordered by the Supreme Court after Mr. Zelaya violated the constitution.

Mr. Zelaya, who maintains he is still the legitimate president of Honduras and has vowed to return, is scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday in Washington. Mr. Micheletti called on Clinton to convince the ousted president to engage in dialogue to end the crisis in his country.

He said Secretary Clinton should understand that the former president violated Honduran law and the Honduran constitution, and that he should be held accountable for his actions.

Thousands of Zelaya supporters showed up at the Tegucigalpa airport on Sunday to greet him, but authorities did not permit the Venezuelan plane that carried him to land. Later, a confrontation between demonstrators and soldiers guarding the airport resulted in shots being fired. Several people were wounded and at least one person died.

Zelaya supporters condemned the military for the shooting. But on Monday Honduran human rights commissioner Ramon Custodio said the caliber of the bullets found at the scene were not those used by the armed forces.

Zelaya supporters plan to demonstrate on Tuesday and some are calling for acts of civil disobedience to put pressure on the interim government. Pro-Zelaya groups are talking about blocking roads, border crossings and ports to disrupt the economy.

Carlo Canaca, a student protester at a Tegucigalpa university is calling for a complete shutdown of the nation's educational institutions. He said classes would be suspended indefinitely until the Zelaya government is restored.

Some schools reopened on Monday and commercial activity seemed normal in most parts of Tegucigalpa. The main plaza downtown was full of people at lunchtime and local shopping centers were doing brisk business.

While people for and against Mr. Zelaya are passionate in expressing their opinions, many other Hondurans remain on the sidelines, describing what is happening as just a quarrel between politicians that they hope will end soon.

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