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Toppled Honduran leader leaves for exile

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, January 28 (RIA Novosti) - Ousted former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya has left the country for exile in the Dominican Republic amid hopes that his departure will end seven months of political turmoil, the BBC said.

Zelaya always claimed that he would leave Honduras only as the head of state, but he finally had to accept a deal with newly-elected President Porfirio Lobo to avoid being prosecuted for constitutional violations while in office.

Lobo, who was sworn in as president shortly before Zelaya's departure late on Wednesday, promised him safe passage to the Dominican Republic and personally saw him off at the airport in Tegucigalpa, the BBC said, citing local television.

Zelaya was ousted as president in a coup on June 28 last year and the presidency was taken over by parliament Speaker Roberto Micheletti.

In September the ousted leader secretly returned to Honduras in an attempt to restore his power and has been holed up in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa ever since.

Porfirio Lobo of the Honduran opposition National Party won elections in late November.

Several countries, including Argentina, Brazil and Venezuela, have refused to recognize Lobo as president, saying it would imply an approval of state coups in general.

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