Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ousted Honduran leader to spend Christmas in Brazilian embassy

The latest word from Honduras is that ousted leftist president Manuel Zelaya and his family will spend Christmas in Brazil's embassy in Tagucigalpa, where he has been sheltered since sneaking into the country in September, three months after being forced out in a military coup. "For Christmas, the army has told me they will let my mother and my children in and we will be here saying a prayer for the Honduran people," Zelaya told the Reuters international news service by phone from the embassy complex. "No family would want to go through what we are going through unless they were perverse, cruel or heartless." Zelaya was awakened by soldiers June 28 and flown out of the country in his pajamas when the Honduran military seized control and installed a legislative leader as interim president. The coup, apparently designed to prevent Zelaya from moving Honduras closer to Venezuela's anti-U.S. leader Hugo Chavez over the objections of business leaders, was condemned by most countries including the United States, which demanded Zelaya's reinstatement. Zelaya's opponents also accused him of planning to change Honduras' constitution to allow him to stay in office beyond the end of his term in November, Reuters said. Negotiations failed to produce a settlement and Honduras' Congress voted against Zelaya's return to office. The interim government sponsored a new presidential election last month, won by opposition leader Porfirio Lobo. Many European and Latin American countries have refused to recognize the result but the United States said it offered a way to end Honduras' leadership crisis, Reuters said. Lobo is scheduled to be sworn in Jan. 27 and has promised amnesty for Zelaya and coup leaders, Reuters said.

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