Former Honduras president returns home

Manuel Zelaya returns from exile, ending two-year crisis that was caused by his ouster in a military-backed coup.

    Thousands of Zelaya's supporters set up a tent camp and celebrated his arrival [AFP]

    Honduras' former president has returned from exile, ending a nearly two-year political crisis caused by his ouster in a military-backed coup that led to the country's international isolation.

    Manuel Zelaya's flight from neighbouring Nicaragua landed at Tegucigalpa's international airport on Saturday, where thousands of his supporters had set up a tent camp nearby, dancing and singing to celebrate his arrival, the Associated Press reported.

    Zelaya was accompanied by his wife Xiomara Castro, two of his daughters, several former officials in his government and the foreign ministers of Venezuela and Bolivia, the AP said.

    His comeback paves the way for Honduras to re-enter the world community, which near-unanimously rejected the June 2009 coup that saw him whisked out of the Central American country at gunpoint in his pyjamas.

    Zelaya, a leftist, was toppled in 2009 after he attempted to change the constitution, angering Honduran business leaders and members of his own political party, who said the change was aimed at keeping his grip on power.

    The former leader on Friday travelled from the Dominican Republic, where he lived more than a year in exile, to Nicaragua in preparation for his return.

    The Organisation of American States (OAS) is scheduled to meet shortly to formalise Honduras reintegration into the body as a full member.

    Zelaya is scheduled to meet President Porfirio Lobo and OAS chief Jose Miguel Insulza.

    Earlier this month, the Honduran Supreme Court dropped corruption charges against Zelaya, clearing the way for him to return from the Dominican Republic, which has sheltered him for more than a year.

    "I'm returning to Honduras as a politician, ready to take part in a democratic and pacifist political fight," Zelaya earlier told reporters in the Dominican Republic.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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