September 23, 2009 / 1:39 PM / 10 years ago

At U.N., Brazil's Lula demands Zelaya reinstatement

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the first world leader to address the U.N. General Assembly, called on Wednesday for ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya to be reinstated.

“The international community demands that Mr. Zelaya immediately return to the presidency of his country and must be alert to ensure the inviolability of Brazil’s diplomatic mission in the capital of Honduras,” Lula said, drawing applause from the hall.

Zelaya remained holed up in the Brazilian embassy in the Honduran capital. He had been due to address the General Assembly on Wednesday as part of the general debate attended by heads of state and government from around the world.

Earlier, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, a close ally of the leftist Zelaya, said the United Nations should demand that the deposed president be reinstated.

Speaking to reporters before the opening of the General Assembly, Chavez described Zelaya’s return to the Honduran capital as courageous.

Lula added that international political will was needed to avoid similar coups in other countries. Brazil is seeking an urgent meeting of the U.N. Security Council to discuss the crisis in Honduras.

Zelaya slipped back into Honduras on Monday and is sheltering in the Brazilian embassy, now the scene of a standoff between Zelaya’s supporters and security forces under the direction of the interim government that deposed him.

Just days after Zelaya was ousted in June, the General Assembly passed a resolution condemning what it called a coup d’etat and demanded “the immediate and unconditional restoration of the legitimate and constitutional government” of Zelaya.

General Assembly resolutions, unlike those of the Security Council, are not binding.

The interim Honduran government of Roberto Micheletti argues that Zelaya had violated the constitution and was removed legally on the orders of the country’s Supreme Court.

Reporting by Claudia Parsons and Terry Wade, editing by Will Dunham

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