Zelaya won’t return: Micheletti

TEGUCIGALPA: Honduras' political standoff deepened Friday as interim leader Roberto Micheletti insisted that there would be no negotiated return to power of ousted elected President Manuel Zelaya.

The Organization of American States (OAS), meanwhile. was set to hold two meetings on the Honduran crisis in Washington on Friday.

Zelaya, who was elected as a moderate conservative and took a sharp turn to the left while in office, was overthrown in a military-backed coup on June 28. The United States and other nations have pressed for a diplomatic solution.

But Micheletti slammed the United States, charging that having its ambassador meet with Zelaya was interfering in Honduran domestic affairs.

"If you are sure that has taken place, that (the ambassador) has met with Zelaya, it is meddling," Micheletti said, reacting to a meeting between US Ambasssador Hugo Llorens and Zelaya in Managua on Thursday.

"The ambassador is making a serious mistake if he has done that," Micheletti said after swearing in some aides in the presidential mansion's Hall of Democracy.

"We don't want any country interfering in Honduras' affairs," a defiant Micheletti said.

He warned that if Zelaya "wants to take this to the courts, fine, because they are there waiting for him, but if he wants to come back to power, under no circumstances" whatsoever will that take place."

It is a pitched ideological battle in Honduras, a mountainous Central American county where the small conservative business-oriented community is vastly outnumbered by the poor.

Zelaya, who has allied himself with oil-rich regional power Venezuela, draws his support from the poor.

Micheletti was quick to insist he was not trying to stay in power.

"If there is a settlement calling on me to step aside, I will be pleased to do so. But Zelaya should not be coming back to Honduras, much less as its ruler," Micheletti said.

"If (Zelaya) comes down from the mountain (on the Nicaragua-Honduras border) where he is playing guerrilla, and turns up here, I will be glad to let a third party take over to end the crisis. I want peace in my country," Micheletti said.

Monday, Zelaya vowed to remain all week in Nicaragua just steps away from Honduras, hoping to return to power at some unspecified time.

The United States urged Zelaya and those who toppled him to show restraint after his second attempt to return home on Friday, as Costa Rica pursued mediation efforts to end the standoff.

The interim leaders who took control after the army expelled the cowboy-hatted leader have welcomed parts of the plan but rejected Zelaya's return as president, as has the military.

The exiled president has said the talks have failed.

Zelaya late Sunday ruled out further negotiations and said he would neither travel to Washington nor to a regional summit in Costa Rica this week.