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Lobo sworn-in as Honduras president
Conservative president vows to lead Zelaya to airport as first official duty.
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2010 19:38 GMT

Lobo reviews a military guard during his inauguration at Tiburcio Carias Andino stadium in Tegucigalpa [AFP]
 

Porfirio Lobo has been sworn in as the new president of Honduras following months of political turmoil after Manuel Zelaya, the former president, was ousted in a military-backed coup.

"I pledge to be faithful to the republic and ensure its laws are enforced," Lobo said at a ceremony attended by foreign dignitaries on Wednesday.

Lobo, 62, replaces a conservative interim government headed by Roberto Micheletti, which was not recognised by other countries after the June 28 coup that toppled elected leftist president Zelaya.

Arturo Valenzuela, the US assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs, was among the guests at the presidential swearing-in ceremony - a sign of Washington's support for Lobo.

Broad support

Others included presidents Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic, Ricardo Martinelli of Panama, Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan, and Francisco Santos, the Colombian vice president.

France said it was "ready to support the new Honduran authorities" as Lobo embarked on a period of national reconciliation, a foreign ministry spokesman said in Paris.

Zelaya sneaked into the Brazilian embassy in Honduras in September [AFP]
But leftist governments across the region, including powerhouse Brazil, broadly reject his route to power, seen as stemming from and potentially legitimising the coup in a region with a painful history of political upheaval and military rule.

"For Brazil, the situation has not changed. For now, Brazil does not recognize Lobo's government," an official in Brazil's foreign ministry told the AFP news agency.

Lobo has promised his first official act would be to escort his predecessor Zelaya to the airport where a plane was waiting to take him to the Dominican Republic.

"Zelaya, his relatives and members of his circle of advisers can leave for the Dominican Republic on January 27... as guests of that sister nation," Lobo said in a statement on Wednesday.

'Goodwill gesture'

Zelaya, who insists he remains the legitimate president, told the Globo radio network that the document "is a goodwill gesture by Porfirio Lobo" who is "distancing himself from the dictatorship" of Micheletti.

Zelaya has been holed up in the Brazilian embassy since sneaking back into Honduras in September, following his forced deportation by soldiers acting under orders from the supreme court.

His original mandate was to have ended on Wednesday.

Lobo, who was elected in controversial November polls called by Micheletti, faces several challenges to repair the damage from Zelaya's overthrow.

The most immediate ones are filling state coffers starved of trade revenues and foreign credits, and engineering Honduras's return into the family of Latin American nations scandalised by the June coup.

Honduran politicians and senior judges said they conspired to topple Zelaya because he was threatening the constitution by trying to stay in power beyond his single permitted four-year term.

A Honduran judge on Tuesday dismissed all charges against six military commanders who helped organise the coup. Congress was expected on Wednesday to approve an amnesty for Micheletti and all involved in the ouster.

Source:
Agencies
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