TEGUCIGALPA - Honduras' de facto government came under mounting pressure on Tuesday to restore civil liberties and negotiate an end to a three-month crisis sparked when President Manuel Zelaya was toppled in a coup.
Zelaya was overthrown by the army on June 28, but he secretly slipped back into the country and took refuge in the Brazilian embassy a week ago.
De facto leader Roberto Micheletti has ordered Zelaya's arrest, suspended civil liberties, shut two media stations loyal to Zelaya and warned Brazil it has 10 days to decide on the fate of the deposed leader or its embassy will be closed.
The measures have drawn widespread condemnation, and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Micheletti on Tuesday to lift the restrictions on civil liberties and stop threatening Brazil's embassy.
I am deeply concerned about developments in Honduras. A state of emergency has increased tensions, he said at a news conference in New York. I once again appeal for the safety of President Zelaya. I urge all political actors to seriously commit to dialogue and regional mediation efforts.
Brazil, the regional diplomatic heavyweight, has dismissed Micheletti's deadline and wants more international pressure on his government to force a solution.
The United States has also demanded that Micheletti roll back the emergency measures.
The freedoms inherent in the suspended rights are inalienable and cannot be limited or restricted without seriously damaging the democratic rights of the Honduran people, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said late on Monday.
But President Barack Obama's administration has resisted calls to push harder for Zelaya's return and a U.S. official said on Tuesday that the government is not talking about imposing new sanctions for now.
It has also railed against Zelaya over his role in the crisis, describing his return to Honduras without a negotiated settlement in place as foolish.
CONGRESS CRITICIZES CRACKDOWN
The de facto government has come under pressure from some political allies in Congress who criticized the crackdown on civil liberties. Micheletti hinted on Monday that he may lift the decree, but he has not yet done so and is refusing to budge on the key sticking point: the restoration of Zelaya.
The deposed leader says any deal must allow him to finish out his presidential term, which ends in January.
Soldiers ousted Zelaya at gunpoint on June 28 and sent him into exile in his pajamas after the Supreme Court ordered his arrest. His critics say he broke the law by pushing for constitutional reforms they say would have lifted presidential term limits. Zelaya denies wanting to stay in power.
Honduran armed forces commander Gen. Romeo Vazquez urged dialogue on Tuesday to resolve the crisis.
Soldiers and riot police have surrounded the Brazilian embassy for the past week, while Zelaya tries to rally his followers to the streets to demand he be restored to office in the coffee-producing country.
The Organization of American States held an extraordinary session in Washington on Monday to discuss the face-off. But a negotiated accord appears far off. OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza said a mission would only travel to Honduras when there are results to be achieved.
The de facto government appears to determined to hold out until presidential elections on November 29. But several countries, including the United States, have suggested they might not recognize the vote without a prior agreement.
(Editing by Todd Benson and Kieran Murray)