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Honduras: Ousted Zelaya predicts attempts to assassinate him

Interim Honduran President Micheletti is downplaying Zelaya's return, though the Brazilian Embassy's utilities were cut off and police beatings have increased.

By Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / September 24, 2009

Honduras' ousted President Manuel Zelaya stretches before a mass Thursday at Brazil's embassy in Tegucigalpa. Honduras' interim President Roberto Micheletti has vowed to arrest Zelaya if he leaves the shelter of the diplomatic mission.

Esteban Felix/AP

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Mexico City

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya is warning that the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, where he has been holed up since Monday, could be stormed by "mercenaries" who would attempt to assassinate him.

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"A group of mercenaries could enter here to carry out a killing," Mr. Zelaya was quoted as saying on Spanish National Radio, adding that Honduran interim leaders could cover it up as a suicide.

His foes dismiss this as political opportunism. Still, Roberto Micheletti, who has been in power since Zelaya was forced out of the country by the military June 28 over a constitutional conflict, has proven himself to be unwavering, even obstinate. As aid to Honduras was cut, global condemnation became shrill, and electoral support was withdrawn, Mr. Micheletti has only dug in his heels.

"Micheletti is a hard-liner, and in some ways that does not help. But if he didn't have that personality he would not have survived all this pressure," says Jorge Aguilar, the president of a smaller opposition party, the Innovation and Unity Party – Social Democrat (Pinu), which is divided on the issue of Zelaya's ouster.

Will Micheletti negotiate?

Still, Mr. Aguilar says he believes Micheletti will choose the route of negotiation. "I don't think the Micheletti administration is going to push it that far.… I don't think he'd do anything like [storming the embassy] that would trigger the end of Micheletti."

Concern over the interim government's intentions grew after water and electricity to the Brazilian Embassy were cut on Tuesday. The US urged authorities to respect "the inviolability of the embassy of Brazil in Tegucigalpa and the individuals on its premises." Brazil called an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

Human rights groups, like Amnesty International, have denounced a rise in police beatings since the crisis ignited; since Zelaya's return, police told the BBC that at least one person has been killed in clashes between protesters and authorities.

Despite fears otherwise, Micheletti has said he has no intention of violating international law by invading the Brazilian Embassy. Instead, he has tried to keep the focus on the upcoming presidential elections and even downplayed Zelaya's return. Earlier this week he told the nation: "The presence of Mr. Zelaya in this country does not change our reality."

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