Accord Reached to Let Honduran President Depart

Elisabeth Malkin
Wednesday, January 20, 2010

MEXICO CITY — The president-elect of Honduras agreed on Wednesday to grant safe passage to the Dominican Republic for ousted President Manuel Zelaya next week, in a deal designed to offer a graceful exit for the deposed leader.

The accord, which was signed Wednesday by the incoming Honduran president, Porfirio Lobo, and President Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic, would guarantee Mr. Zelaya full rights, which would allow him to travel and speak publicly.

Mr. Zelaya, who was overthrown in a coup last June, called the proposal “a good gesture” and said that he would study it, the Honduran media reported.

He has been living in the Brazilian embassy in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa, since last September, unable to leave for fear of arrest. The de facto government that took power after the coup has said he faces many charges, including abuse of power and corruption.

A similar deal under which Mr. Zelaya would have gone to Mexico fell apart last month when the de facto government insisted that he had to request asylum outside the country, which he refused to do. Now, with the end of Mr. Zelaya’s presidential term imminent and the promise of a more dignified status, he may be more inclined to accept.

Resolving Mr. Zelaya’s future would be an important step for Mr. Lobo, who has been lobbying for international recognition of his government after he is inaugurated on Jan. 27. With the exception of the United States and a handful of Latin American countries, most nations have yet to say whether they will recognize Mr. Lobo’s administration.

Most countries refused to recognize the de facto government after the coup and suspended most aid to Honduras, which is one of the poorest countries in the hemisphere.

Source URL: 
www.nytimes.com/2010/01/21/world/americas/21honduras.html?ref=americas