Honduran senate vote on Zelaya fate

Debate to decide whether deposed President Manuel Zelaya should be reinstated.

    Zelaya, pictured, was ousted in June after critics said he tried to illegally extend term limits [Reuters]

    Dan Hellinger, a Latin America analyst, said: "I don't see Congress ... voting any kind of amnesty or settlement with Zelaya.

    "He has been made into an even more potent symbol of change, and I can't believe that the Honduran elite classes will allow him freedom to engage in political activity."

    Wide divisions

    Zelaya was forced into exile on 28 June after critics, including the Supreme Court, Congress and business leaders, said he acted against the constitution and tried to illegally extend term limits.

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    Zelaya has repeatedly denied this and pointed out that it would have been impossible to change the constitution before his term in office was complete.

    Divisions in the Central American nation remain wide after the weekend election held under the de facto regime behind Zelaya's ouster.

    Lobo, who won the weekend election but was defeated by Zelaya in the 2005 election, has pledged to form a unity government and seek dialogue.

    He is due to take office on January 27, when the ousted president's term ends.

    The elections were hailed as a broad success, but·Zelaya's camp called for them to be cancelled and accused election officials of inflating participation figures.
     
    The United States and the European Union said they saw the polls as an important first step forward.

    But other nations in Latin America, including regional power Brazil, said they served to whitewash the coup.

    Though endorsed by the United States, the presidential election has failed to end the political crisis in the country.

    Deep split

    Some see Zelaya's reinstatement as a possible way out of the impasse.

    Zelaya supporters, who boycotted the polls, plan to demonstrate on Wednesday [Reuters] 
    Lobo has so far refused to take a stance on Zelaya's return, saying that Congress, in which hiis party has 55 seats, must decide.

    Zelaya's Liberal Party has 62, but its members are deeply split after he switched to the left under the influence of Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president.

    Smaller parties have five, four and two seats.

    Lobo has promised to seek national reconciliation, but Zelaya says he will not accept any negotiations with the de facto regime.

    Zelaya supporters, who boycotted the polls, have vowed to stage a protest outside the Congress on Wednesday.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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