- The Washington Times - Friday, September 25, 2009

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras | If it weren’t for the deposed president trapped in the Brazilian Embassy, life would be almost back to normal in Honduras on Thursday.

After days of paralyzing curfews, children returned to school, airplanes began landing at the airport, borders were open and downtown streets were again crammed with taxis, buses and vendors hawking newspapers, snacks and bubble gum.

It was a dramatic shift after the past three days, when Hondurans have been forced to scramble through looted stores for food and police have blasted water cannons and tear gas at violent demonstrations.

On Thursday morning, there remained just one tense part of the capital. Hundreds of troops and police continued to ring the Brazilian Embassy, where an increasingly exhausted President Manuel Zelaya, his family and about 70 supporters, have been sheltered since he sneaked back into Honduras on Monday.

Mr. Zelaya was forced out of Honduras at gunpoint in June after the Honduran Supreme Court ordered his arrest. Interim President Roberto Micheletti has vowed to arrest Mr. Zelaya if he leaves the shelter of the Brazilian diplomatic mission.

International leaders, including the European Union and President Obama, have called for Mr. Zelaya’s reinstatement ever since he was ousted, and his surprise arrival has prompted new calls for Mr. Micheletti to step down.

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva used the podium at the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Wednesday to demand Mr. Zelaya be reinstated as Honduras’ president and the U.S. State Department in Washington called for restraint by both sides.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said the United States, which still has contact with Honduran officials, persuaded authorities to restore water and power at the Brazilian Embassy and had helped evacuate some embassy staff.

It’s unclear whether demonstrators have been killed during recent violent protests. Mr. Zelaya has told media outlets that 10 protesters were killed by police, but he has given no details and authorities dispute this.

Local hospitals report several people have been treated for gunshot wounds.

The interim government’s foreign minister, Carlos Lopez, said soldiers would not try to enter the embassy to arrest Mr. Zelaya. But he also said yet again that Honduras’ interim government would not bow to intense international demands for him to serve out his final months as president.

Before he was ousted, the country’s Supreme Court had endorsed charges of treason and abuse of authority against Mr. Zelaya for repeatedly ignoring court orders to drop a planned referendum on whether the constitution should be rewritten.

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