The ousted president of Honduras has promised to return to the country Sunday, setting up a possible confrontation with the interim leadership. Thousands of people have gathered at the airport in Tegucigalpa to welcome the ousted president.
|Ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya speaks during a news conference after a meeting of the OAS in Washington, 01 Jul 2009|
In a taped statement, ousted President Manuel Zelaya said he plans to arrive in the capital Sunday, alongside a delegation of foreign heads of state and other dignitaries.
He called on supporters to greet him at the airport in Tegucigalpa and demand the interim government return power to him.
Zelaya Asks For Support
Mr. Zelaya asked farmers, students, laborers and others to come and show their support for him as the rightfully elected president of the Central American nation.
He urged his followers not to bring weapons and to avoid violence, even in the face of what he called repression by the interim government. Scores of people began gathering Saturday at the airport, and Honduran soldiers were seen taking positions at the airfield.
The ousted leader also warned the government of Interim President Roberto Micheletti that it has no support outside the country.
|People against ousted Honduras President Manuel Zelaya gather outside of presidential residence in support of interim government in Tegucigalpa, 03 Jul 2009|
Mr. Zelaya said the world has turned its back on the interim leaders, as every foreign government has refused to acknowledge their authority.
Catholic Church Leaders Express Concern
Catholic church leaders in Honduras expressed concern that the ousted leader's return could lead to violence. In a televised address, Tegucigalpa Archbishop Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez said there could be a bloodbath if Mr. Zelaya acts hastily.
Rodriguez said no one has been killed in the transition so far, and that Mr. Zelaya should take great care before it is too late.
Interim President Micheletti has rejected claims that he is in charge of a coup government. He says the supreme court acted lawfully when it ordered military forces to remove Mr. Zelaya from power for violating the constitution. Soldiers seized the president in a pre-dawn raid Sunday and placed him on a plane to Costa Rica.