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Honduran Security Breaks Up Pro-Zelaya Protests


Riot police in Honduras on Tuesday broke up marches by supporters of ousted President Manuel Zelaya, who has sought refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa.

Mr. Zelaya announced his return to Tegucigalpa on Monday, three months after he was seized by security forces and taken out of the country by airplane. Speaking from inside the Brazilian embassy, Mr. Zelaya said he remains the elected president of the country and called on his followers to show their support.

Thousands of people gathered outside the embassy early Tuesday, even after the interim government imposed a ban on public gatherings and a curfew.

Security forces fired tear gas to break up the pro-Zelaya marchers, who are also accused of vandalizing buildings in the country's capital overnight.

Mr. Zelaya told reporters he feared the interim government would provoke violence and might even invade the Brazilian embassy compound to seize him.

In Brazil, President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said he spoke by telephone with the ousted leader, who, he said, urged his supporters pursue peaceful demonstrations.

The Brazilian leader said he told Mr. Zelaya not to give the interim government a pretext to resort to violence in the standoff.

Mr. da Silva said he hoped that Honduran security forces would not enter the Brazilian embassy, and asked the nation's interim government to negotiate a resolution to the crisis.

Interim President Roberto Micheletti called on Brazil to hand over Mr. Zelaya to face trial on 18 charges, including treason. He also questioned why Mr. Zelaya chose to return now - two months ahead of new presidential elections.

Mr. Micheletti said the ousted leader and his supporters have been trying to block the November elections for several weeks.

U.S. State Department Spokesman, Ian Kelly called for dialogue between the ousted president and the interim government. Kelly said the San Jose agreement, mediated by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias, remains the best approach to resolving the crisis.

The United States and other Western Hemisphere countries have refused to recognize the Honduran interim government. Costa Rica's president had led talks between Mr. Zelaya and the interim government aimed at brokering a compromise. The Washington-backed talks broke down in July, after interim leaders refused to allow Mr. Zelaya to return to office.

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