August 13, 2009 in Nation/World

Marchers clash with police in Honduras

Protesters demand president’s return
Tyler Bridges McClatchy
Arnulfo Franco photo

A supporter of Zelaya kicks Ramon Velasquez, vice president of the Honduran Congress, during protests.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Thousands of protesters calling for the return of deposed President Manuel Zelaya clashed with police Wednesday for the second day in a row, but Honduras’ de facto government showed no willingness to allow Zelaya to return.

Youths with bandannas covering their faces threw rocks at police outside Honduras’ congressional building. The police, protecting themselves with riot shields, periodically launched tear gas to disperse them.

It was unclear how many protesters took part in the demonstration. Police placed the number at 3,000; pro-Zelaya supporters said 10,000. There were no reports of deaths or injuries, but police said they’d arrested at least 43 people.

On Tuesday, Honduran authorities declared a curfew in the capital after the protesters, many of whom arrived by foot from outside Tegucigalpa in their largest organizing effort yet, broke windows, looted a Dunkin’ Donuts franchise and set fire to a municipal bus.

Most commerce seemed to carry on as usual Wednesday, though teachers and medical professionals who were striking in solidarity with Zelaya shut down public schools and hospitals.

Government officials said Wednesday that they would impose a nighttime curfew for the second night in a row if the marchers turned violent again.

The violence came as Honduras’ de facto government seemed increasingly unlikely to accept any resolution to the crisis that returns Zelaya to office.

The military rousted Zelaya from bed June 28 and bundled him aboard a military plane that took him to Costa Rica after the country’s Supreme Court called for his arrest, saying he’d violated the country’s constitution by scheduling a referendum on whether Honduras should hold an assembly to rewrite the constitution.

Honduras’ transition president, Roberto Micheletti, whom Congress named to replace Zelaya, has said repeatedly that the country will hold presidential elections Nov. 29 as previously scheduled.

The ousted president visited Brasilia, Brazil, on Wednesday in his latest stop to rally foreign leaders to push for his return.

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