- The Washington Times - Monday, September 21, 2009

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras — Deposed President Manuel Zelaya has told a local television station that he has returned home to Honduras to reclaim his presidency.

“I cannot give details, but I’m here,” Zelaya told the local TV Channel 36. His voice, but not his image, were transmitted.

Zelaya, who said he would hold a news conference Monday afternoon, was forced out of the country at gunpoint on June 28. Interim leader Roberto Micheletti has repeatedly said a jail cell awaits Zelaya if he comes back.

Leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez also said that his ally Zelaya had returned, but interim government officials denied the reports and said Zelaya is not in Honduras.

Elisabeth Sierra, a spokeswoman for the Honduran Embassy in Nicaragua, where Zelaya had been exiled, said the ousted president returned to his country Monday and was at U.N. offices in Tegucigalpa. She said he was encouraging supporters to demonstrate at those offices.

“He is in Honduras and calling the resistance to gather in front of the United Nations and protect the constitutional president of Honduras,” she said.

Zelaya also told the television station he was in the U.N. offices and that he planned to hold a press conference.

If the current administration attempts to imprison Zelaya, protesters who have demonstrated against his ouster could turn violent, said Vicki Gass at the Washington Office on Latin America.

“There’s a saying about Honduras that people can argue in the morning and have dinner in the evening, but I’m not sure this will happen in this case,” said Gass. “It’s been 86 days since the coup. Something had to break and this might be it.”

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