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Ousted Honduran president says he will return

Honduras' ousted president, bolstered by international support, said he will return home this week to regain control. The man who replaced him said yesterday that Manuel Zelaya could be met with an arrest warrant.

The military coup on Sunday provoked nearly universal condemnation from governments of the Western Hemisphere, from US President Barack Obama to Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, and it sparked clashes in the Honduran capital that have left dozens of people injured. Flanked by Latin American leaders who have vowed to help him regain power, Manuel Zelaya said late on Monday that Organization of American States Secretary-General Jose Miguel Insulza had agreed to accompany him back to Honduras.

But the man named by Honduras' Congress as interim president, Roberto Micheletti, indicated yesterday that Zelaya would risk arrest if he returns because "the courts of my country have issued arrest orders" against him. Zelaya said he wanted to return to the Honduras capital tomorrow after attending a meeting of the UN General Assembly to seek support from its 192 member nations.

"I want the support of whoever thinks I have the right to finish my presidency," Zelaya said at a late night news conference in Nicaragua, where he earlier received a standing ovation during a meeting of Latin American leaders.

Just as significant was the support of the United States president.

"We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the democratically elected president there," Obama said in Washington. "It would be a terrible precedent if we start moving backwards into the era in which we are seeing military coups as a means of political transition rather than democratic elections."

Micheletti, speaking to Colombia's Caracol Radio, insisted that it was Zelaya who had violated the constitution and that his court-ordered removal was legal.

"We have not committed a coup d'etat, but a constitutional succession," he said.

Congress and the Supreme Court accuse Zelaya of maneuvering to rewrite the constitution - apparently in hopes of extending his rule.

While Zelaya may face arrest warrants, Micheletti's foreign minister said the overthrown leader "is not banned from entering Honduras."


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