The National Congress of Honduras, which last June supported the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya, hasn’t changed its mind about his political future.
On Wednesday, the congress voted by an overwhelming margin of 111 to 14 to not restore Zelaya to the presidency, even for the symbolic lame-duck period before President-elect Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo takes office Jan. 27, 2010 (see page N1).
The vote came in spite of pressure on Honduras from regional powers such as Brazil and Venezuela to restore Zelaya’s presidency or face non-recognition of its Nov. 29 elections. 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 before the election but will now serve out the last month of his de facto term.
Micheletti added that the vote was an important step in complying with the socalled 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 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, exiled and flown to Costa Rica.
“They have condemned Honduras to exist outside the rule of law,” Zelaya said from the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, his refuge for more than two months.