Monday 6 July 2009

Honduras crisis deepens

Inspired by their deposed leader's determined bid to fly home, supporters of ousted Honduran President, Manuel Zelaya descend on the country's main airport in their thousands.

Honduras' de facto leaders are just as determined to stop the leftist businessman from returning, setting the stage for a potentially violent showdown with his supporters.

As Zelaya's plane appeared in the skies overhead, a section of the crowd broke through fencing near the runway.

Their advance was immediately choked off by a barrage of tear gas - and gun shots.

Frightened, angry voices can heard remonstrating with the soldiers: 'There are children, stupid! There are children!"

As Zelaya's plane circled above looking for a place to land, military vehicles and soldiers blocked the runway.

After several failed attempts to put down at Tegucigalpa airport, the private jet turned away, leaving behind a country in turmoil.

Arriving in neighbouring Nicaragua, Zelaya spoke to the Venezualan-based Telesur channel.

Voicing disappointment over his failure to land in Honduras, he accused the de facto President Roberto Micheletti of trying to provoke war.


"Everything the de facto president does, according to our laws, is illegal..he's trying to provoke an international conflict to unite the country, it's an old trick that no one is going to buy. What he's doing doesn't make sense. He's using the (security) forces against the people."

The prospect of bloodshed has risen steadily since Zelaya was overthrown in a military coup a week ago.

Zelaya was toppled in a row over his attempts to extend presidential term limits - a move coup leaders, backed by the Supreme Court, say violated the Honduran constitution.

The de facto caretaker government's refusal to reinstate the exiled President led to Honduras' suspension from the Organisation of American States at the weekend - a move that leaves the country increasingly isolated.

Helen Long, Reuters

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