Image: Riot police outside Brazilian Embassy
Esteban Felix  /  AP
Riot police guard ouside the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa on Wednesday. The coup-installed government says there will be no deal for ousted leader Manuel Zelaya to leave the country unless he goes as a private citizen — not as the country's president.
updated 12/10/2009 3:25:14 PM ET 2009-12-10T20:25:14

Honduras' coup-installed government said Thursday that there will be no deal for ousted leader Manuel Zelaya to leave the country unless he goes as a private citizen — not as the country's president.

Brazil criticized the interim government for its stance against Zelaya, who has been holed up at the South American nation's embassy in Tegucigalpa ever since he slipped back into Honduras nearly three months ago.

"This attitude of humiliation toward President Zelaya, to want him to sign documents (saying he is not president), is something I have never seen," Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said. "It is totally unacceptable."

Late Wednesday, as news emerged of talks on a possible agreement letting Zelaya depart for Mexico, that country requested guarantees for his safe passage as a distinguished guest and sent a plane to Honduras to pick him up Zelaya.

‘No new talks’
Honduras' interim Foreign Minister Carlos Lopez said the aircraft was diverted to El Salvador, however, when it became clear Zelaya would only be allowed to leave if he accepts political asylum as a private citizen — which Zelaya has refused, because that status might hinder his campaign to drum up opposition back home.

Information Minister Rene Zepeda said Thursday that a deal is off the table unless Zelaya takes asylum.

"There are no new talks with Mexico and Brazil on Zelaya's case," Zepeda said. "If these countries want to get Zelaya out of Honduras, they will have to do it according to the law: by giving him asylum in their territories, but without a title. If that happens, our government will accept that and they can take him immediately without any problem."

Zelaya continues to face arrest on treason and abuse of power charges for ignoring a Supreme Court order against holding a referendum on changing the constitution, which led to the June 28 coup.

On Nov. 29, Porfirio Lobo won presidential elections that the interim government hopes will be internationally recognized and help end the political crisis.

Zelaya said that by leaving, he hopes to seek out a neutral site to meet with Lobo and "find a peaceful solution to the situation in the country."

But Zelaya said he wants a negotiated solution for his departure — one "that respected the law, and respected my office," and would let him continue political actions abroad. He operated a sort of government-in-exile from other Latin American nations after being ousted.

"I will not accept any political asylum," Zelaya said.

Lawmakers vote against restoration
Honduras' Congress, dominated by Zelaya's own political party, voted 111-14 last week month against restoring him to office to serve out his term, which ends Jan. 27.

Zelaya said he had talked with both Mexican President Felipe Calderon and Dominican President Leonel Fernandez about leaving Honduras.

Mexico's Foreign Relations Department said Wednesday it was looking "to contribute to the easing of tensions in Hondurans ... through dialogue and negotiation."

Mexican officials could not be reached for comment early Thursday.

Although Zelaya has refused to recognize the election, Lobo says he hopes to open dialogue with the deposed leader and seek national reconciliation.

Lobo's options, however, are limited. Even once he takes office, he cannot grant Zelaya amnesty from prosecution; that power belongs to Congress.

Western Hemisphere countries united to condemn Zelaya's ouster but are divided on whether to recognize Lobo's election.

The United States, which cut off some aid over the coup, and a few countries in Latin America have said Hondurans had the right to choose a new leader in elections that had been scheduled before Zelaya's overthrow.

Other nations, including Brazil, Argentina and Venezuela, have rejected the election, saying that would legitimize Central America's first coup in two decades.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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