Honduran leader sworn in; Zelaya in exile

Associated Press / January 28, 2010

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TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - Former president Manuel Zelaya of Honduras left his refuge in the Brazilian Embassy and flew into exile yesterday, ending months of turmoil and his quest to be restored to power after a June 28 coup that drew international condemnation.

The leftist leader drove past soldiers guarding the diplomatic compound in a 20-car caravan and headed for the airport accompanied by President Porfirio Lobo, said Hilda Cruz, an assistant to Zelaya’s wife.

Zelaya was going to the Dominican Republic as a private citizen under a deal signed by Lobo and the Caribbean country’s president, Leonel Fernandez, who flew to Honduras to accompany Zelaya.

Zelaya has not elaborated on his future but shouted before boarding the plane: “We’ll be back! We’ll be back!’’

About 6,000 supporters gathered outside the airport.

Lobo, who was sworn into office hours earlier, had said his first task as president would be providing Zelaya safe passage out of the country.

“We have emerged from the worst crisis in the democratic history of Honduras,’’ said Lobo, 61. “We want national reconciliation to extend to a necessary and indispensable reconciliation with the international community.’’