San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Honduran Congress rules out Zelaya restitution

The National Congress of Honduras, which last June supported the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya, hasn´t changed its mind about his political future.

Late Wednesday, the Congress voted by an overwhelming vote of 111 to 14 to not restitute Zelaya to the presidency, even for the symbolic lame-duck period before President-elect Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo takes office Jan. 27 (see this week´s Nica Times).

The vote came in spite of pressure from such regional powers as Brazil and Venezuela, whose leaders are pushing for Honduras to restore Zelaya´s presidency or face non-recognition of its newly elected president.

But for de facto President Roberto Micheletti, the decision to close the book on Zelaya is the beginning of a fresh start for a new government.

“Congress´ rejection of the restitution of Mr. Zelaya to the presidency sends a clear message from all Hondurans that we don´t want to return to the past,” said Micheletti, who stepped down from office previous to last week´s election but will now serve out the last month of his de facto term.

Micheletti added that the vote by Congress was an important step in complying with the so-called Tegucigalpa-San José Accord, which both sides agreed to in October. Zelaya, however, claims the spirit of that accord was broken when Congress refused to vote on his restitution until after the Nov. 29 elections.

For foreign diplomats and Zelaya supporters, the decision by Congress was just another step toward consolidating the coup that began on June 28, when the president was roused from his bed and exiled to Costa Rica.

“They have condemned Honduras to exist outside the rule of law,” Zelaya said from the Brazilian Embassy, where he´s been protected for more than two months.

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