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Honduran court defiant on Zelaya

A pro-Zelaya rally in Tegulcigalpa, 3 July
Supporters of Manuel Zelaya continue to demonstrate in Tegulcigalpa

The Supreme Court of Honduras has rejected a demand by the Organization of American States to reinstate the ousted President, Manuel Zelaya.

OAS chief Miguel Insulza was told that the court's position was "irreversible" when he met its president for two hours in the capital Tegulcigalpa.

Mr Insulza, who arrived in Honduras on a mission to have Mr Zelaya reinstated, left the meeting without comment.

Troops forced President Zelaya out of the country on Sunday.

No coup took place here
Roberto Micheletti
head of interim government

The interim government formed after his removal says Mr Zelaya's attempts to change the Honduran constitution, and possibly extend his power, justified the army's actions.

It can now expect expulsion from the OAS, diplomatic isolation and likely international sanctions, the BBC's Stephen Gibbs reports from Tegulcigalpa.

Mr Zelaya is expected to return from exile to the country on Sunday, accompanied by OAS officials and Argentine President Cristina Kirchner.

The new Honduran government says he will be arrested.

'Despotic ambitions'

Before arriving in the Central American state, Mr Insulza said he would meet the heads of the institutions that approved Mr Zelaya's removal and ask them to review their actions.

Miguel Insulza arrives in Honduras
Miguel Insulza says he faces a difficult task in the Central American state

"We are not going to Honduras to negotiate," he said.

He acknowledged that it would be difficult to persuade the interim government to take back Mr Zelaya.

Mr Zelaya wanted to hold a referendum that could have removed the current one-term limit on serving as president, paving the way for his possible re-election.

Instead troops - backed by Congress and the courts - took him from the presidential palace and put him on a plane to Costa Rica.

The new leadership enjoys the support of a substantial proportion of the population and says it stands for democracy, our correspondent reports.

It suggests that Mr Zelaya had despotic ambitions, and therefore the extreme action of removing him from power was justified.

But governments around the world disagree, and believe that a clear message should be sent to Honduras that using the army to depose a president is not acceptable, our correspondent says.

Saturday deadline

The OAS has said it will suspend Honduras if Mr Zelaya is not reinstated by Saturday.

Mr Zelaya himself insists that he remains the country's democratically elected leader.

The interim government - led by Roberto Micheletti, previously the speaker of Congress - says it may bring elections forward from their scheduled date of 29 November.

On Friday, Mr Micheletti told thousands of supporters at a rally in Tegucigalpa that he was "the president of all Hondurans".

"We are asking Hondurans to communicate with their relatives throughout the world to tell them that no coup took place here," he said.

Thousands of Zelaya supporters demonstrated at a separate rally across town.



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Citizen.co.za OAS head presses global concerns in Honduras - 54 mins ago
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Reuters India Honduras to meet OAS but tells Zelaya 'don't come' - 17 hrs ago
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