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Zelaya to set up camp at Honduras border

The deposed Honduran president says he will stay on the Nicaraguan side of a rural border crossing as he demands that he be allowed to meet his family.

July 26, 2009|Associated Press

LAS MANOS, NICARAGUA — Deposed President Manuel Zelaya returned to the Honduran border Saturday and announced that he would set up camp there, even as foreign leaders urged him not to force a confrontation with the de facto government that ousted him in a coup last month.

Zelaya arrived at a rural frontier crossing and immediately grabbed a megaphone, addressing a crowd of 150 supporters and about as many journalists. He said he would wait near the border and demanded that his family be allowed to meet him.

"We are going to stand firm," Zelaya said, complaining that the interim government has not allowed him to see his family, whom he hasn't seen since June 28, when he was taken at gunpoint from his home and deported to Costa Rica.

"Today we are going to set up camps here, with water and food. We are going to stay here this afternoon, tonight and tomorrow morning," he said.

Zelaya's wife, Xiomara Castro, told CNN by telephone that she had been stopped at a roadblock on a highway leading to the border and that police and soldiers would not let her and others pass.

Zelaya apparently is going to travel back and forth between the camp and the nearby Nicaraguan town of El Ocotal. He said he probably wouldn't repeat his brief symbolic crossing of Friday, saying he feared that soldiers would attack his supporters.

About 50 soldiers held a line about 100 yards inside Honduran territory, with a few Honduran police a bit closer.

On Friday, Zelaya triumphantly lifted a chain marking the frontier and took a few strides into Honduran territory, where the interim government has charged him with violating the constitution and has vowed to arrest him.

He retreated into Nicaragua less than 30 minutes later. Soldiers did not approach to arrest him Friday at the remote mountain border crossing.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has called the trip "reckless" and said it would not help restore democratic and constitutional order.

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