New Honduras leaders defiant

HONDURAS: Foreign pressure mounted on the increasingly isolated nation as the OAS threatened Honduras with suspension from the regional body if it did not return Zelaya to power.

As frustrations and tension rose here, deputies also said that a new night-time curfew suspended some liberties guaranteed under the constitution, including the freedom to assemble.

Micheletti, who took over hours after Zelaya was bundled away to Costa Rica on Sunday, took a firm stance as he huddled with members of his new government in the heavily-guarded presidential palace.

Further away, thousands protested both for and against Zelaya on the capital's streets, as demos took place across the country of 7.5 million.

"We can't negotiate anything," Micheletti said. "We can't reach an agreement because there are orders to capture the ex-president Zelaya here for crimes he committed when he was an official."

The country's attorney general has ordered the arrest of Zelaya, who is now expected to return to the country at the weekend, at the end of the OAS deadline.

"He'll never return to power," Micheletti said. "He could return after resolving his (legal) problems... he could aspire to be a lawmaker at the national Congress, or a mayor of his town."

Micheletti said he was sending a delegation to the United States next week to explain the coup leadership's side of the story, and insisted the impoverished nation would still receive aid, despite increasing suspensions.

"You know that the European Union isn't going to cut help to this country, nor will the North Americans," Micheletti said.

The Inter-American Development Bank on Wednesday halted aid, following a similar move by the World Bank.

In Washington, meanwhile, the United States indicated it may follow suit, saying it would wait until Monday before making a decision.

Ravaged by Hurricane Mitch in 1998 -- which killed thousands and washed away whole towns -- Honduras has since received hundreds of millions of dollars in help from the international community.

Italy was on Wednesday the latest European country to recall its ambassador to Honduras, following France and Spain, while the 27 nations of the European Union agreed to have no contact with the leadership of Sunday's coup.

Asked about the possibility of a coalition government with Zelaya, Micheletti told journalists earlier that the decision was in the hands of the country's courts.

After Zelaya's bid to change the constitution sparked the crisis, deputies, from different parties, said a new curfew suspended some liberties guaranteed underneath the constitution.

"The regulation authorizes keeping people detained for more than 24 hours and suspending guarantees like freedom to assemble, and the right to free movement," said leftist deputy Doris Gutierrez.

After winning the backing of the UN General Assembly for his bid to return to power, Zelaya won support from the OAS with the ultimatum Wednesday.

"We will wait 72 hours in order to continue with this process," Zelaya told reporters in Panama City one day before he had been due to return home.

The Pentagon suspended all military activities with Tegucigalpa until further notice a day after Zelaya met senior US officials in Washington, but not with US President Barack Obama -- who has said he still regards him as the legitimate Honduran president.

Elected in 2005 to a non-renewable four-year term, Zelaya clashed with the country's courts, military and politicians in the run up to Sunday's vote on a referendum to change the constitution, which was expected to allow him a stab at a second term.

The new authorities extended the 10:00 pm to 5:00 am curfew to Friday, after dozens of people were injured in clashes on Monday.

Unidentified attackers threw a grenade, which failed to explode, at the Supreme Court late Tuesday.