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Honduras' Zelaya to stay in Brazil embassy

Soldiers guard the surroundings of the Brazilian embassy where ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya has holed up in Tegucigalpa November 28, 2009. REUTERS/Tomas Bravo

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - Honduras’ deposed President Manuel Zelaya said on Sunday that he would stay in the Brazilian embassy in the Honduran capital for as long as Brasilia allowed him to and that he would be willing to talk to the new president-elect.

Leftist Zelaya, who was ousted by the army in a coup on June 28, slipped back into Honduras in September and took refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa, from where he has been demanding his reinstatement.

The United States and Brazil have been pushing for Zelaya’s return to power but his fate remains uncertain after the Honduran Congress voted on Wednesday not to allow him to finish his term that ends in January.

“As long as I have Brazil’s support, I will be here,” Zelaya told Reuters by telephone from the embassy, which is ringed by Honduran soldiers around the clock.

Opposition candidate Porfirio Lobo won a presidential vote last weekend and could allow Honduras, which is suffering from an aid freeze following the coup, to overcome the five-month crisis.

Regional power Brazil has said it does not recognize the election because it was organized by the de-facto government. But it signaled late on Friday it may consider Lobo’s victory as separate from the coup and potentially legitimate.

Zelaya has also rejected the elections as a sham, but told Reuters he did not rule out talking to Lobo, a sign that he too may be willing to compromise.

“I am a democrat ... I always talk,” he said when asked about holding talks with Lobo.

Reporting by Gustavo Palencia, Editing by Sandra Maler