Ousted Honduran president arrives in El Salvador after failing to return home

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya arrived in El Salvador late Sunday for talks with the head of the Organization of American States and other regional leaders.

OAS countries' leaders and ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya during a join press conference at the El Salvador International Airpot in Comalapa, some 45 kilometers South from the Capital on July 5, 2009. Zelaya is in El Salvador after his attempts to back to Honduras.

He was due to meet here with OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza and Presidents Cristina Kirchner of Argentina and Rafael Correa of Ecuador, the presidency announced.

Zelaya arrived here after making a failed attempt to return to Honduras where he was ousted in a military coup a week ago.

His plane had tried in vain to land at the airport in Tegucigalpa, but at least half a dozen military vehicles blocked the only runway at the airport, while tens of thousands of his supporters demonstrated outside.

Military vehicles blocked the runway to prevent ousted President Manuel Zelaya from landing in Honduras Sunday, shortly after troops clashed with his supporters, killing two, according to police.

Zelaya attempted his return to the crisis-gripped nation one week after he was kicked out of power, as tensions reached breaking point, with tens of thousands of his supporters massed at the heavily-militarized airport.

Shortly afterwards his plane landed in Nicaragua, officials in El Salvador said. He was later expected in San Salvador.

Troops fired tear gas and shot on angry protesters trying to break into airport, killing two and injuring at least two others, police said, ahead of Zelaya's expected arrival.

In a dramatic climax to the day's tensions, at least half a dozen military vehicles from the same army that sent Zelaya away in his pajamas one week ago blocked the runway as Zelaya's plane circled overhead.

Zelaya spoke live from the airplane on Venezuela's Telesur television, rebroadcast on CNN in Spanish.

"I'm doing everything I can," Zelaya said. "If I had a parachute I would immediately jump out of this plane."

Zelaya said he would denounce the situation in Honduras to the international community.

"From tomorrow the responsibility will fall on the powers, particularly the United States," Zelaya added.

Zelaya was due to join the presidents of Argentina, Ecuador and Paraguay, who shortly beforehand arrived in El Salvador, according to local press, along with the head of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza.

The pan-American OAS suspended Honduras in an emergency session the previous night, after the interim leaders refused to reinstall Zelaya.

Interim leader Roberto Micheletti ramped up tensions Sunday by alleging that Nicaraguan troops were moving toward the countries' joint border, a claim Nicaraguan military immediately denied.

"We have been informed that in the sector of Nicaragua, some troops are moving toward the border," Micheletti said in a televised news conference.

In Managua, Nicaraguan general Adolfo Zepeda shot back that the information was "totally false."

Amid growing international condemnation, interim leaders also said they had put forward an offer for dialogue in "good faith" with the OAS, after they previously said they were pulling out of the body ahead of the suspension.

But Micheletti also said that no one would pressure him, and still insisted he had taken power in a "constitutional succession."

The OAS suspended Honduras late Saturday in the first such move since the exclusion of Cuba in 1962.

Members of the pan-American body slammed the leaders of the coup which saw the army remove Zelaya at the height of a dispute with the courts, politicians and the army over his plans to change the constitution, which opponents said included an attempt to stand for a second term.

Interim officials extended a night-time curfew on Sunday, to begin at 6.30 pm, instead of 10.00 pm, to avoid gatherings on the streets.

Night time curfews -- which suspend some freedoms guaranteed by the constitution -- and media blackouts have since heightened tension in one of Latin America's poorest countries.

It was unclear exactly how many people had been injured and detained in past week's clashes, amid growing indignation from international rights groups.

The country's human rights commissioner on Sunday said there were no political prisoners in the country.

A freezing of millions of dollars of international aid, regional trade blockades and recalls of foreign ambassadors have also hit the country in the past week.

Chavez, Zelaya's main backer, has said that Venezuela would suspend key shipments of oil to Honduras, which he said would drive up gasoline prices.

The interim government still looked set to try to hunker down until scheduled elections in November, as international outrage increased.

Source: AFP

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