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De facto Honduran leader to leave presidential palace

Honduras’ de facto leader Roberto Micheletti planned to leave the presidential palace in Tegucigalpa definitively Thursday, although he would retain power and govern from home.

Micheletti told Honduran television that he would stay in power until the inauguration of president-elect Porfirio Lobo.
The de facto leader – who has governed Honduras since President Manuel Zelaya’s ouster June 28 last year – said he intended to "make things easier" by leaving the palace.
The international community condemned the coup in Honduras and has insistently called upon Micheletti to step down from power before Lobo’s inauguration. However, the de facto Honduran leader refused to relinquish power, arguing that that would mean accepting that ousting Zelaya was a mistake or a crime.
Former Congress Speaker Micheletti has long argued that there was no coup, but a constitutional replacement of the president.
Wednesday, Dominican President Leonel Fernandez offered to take in Zelaya, who has been sheltered in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa since he secretly returned to Honduras in September last year.
Fernandez made the offer during a visit by Lobo to the Dominican Republic’s capital, Santo Domingo.
Fernandez plans to attend Lobo’s inauguration Jan 27 in Tegucigalpa and said he wants then to return to the Dominican Republic with Zelaya.
Lobo promised that one of his first acts as president would be to ensure the safe passage of Zelaya.
Zelaya has agreed to the plan, Fernandez said.
In his first reaction to Lobo’s promise of safe passage, the ousted president said it was a "good gesture" from Lobo.
At the moment, however, there is a warrant out for his arrest on charges of treason and abuse of office related to his attempt to amend the constitution to allow presidents another term in office, an unpopular stance that led to the coup.
Lobo was elected Nov 29 in a vote that had been planned before the coup but that Zelaya rejected as illegitimate, on the grounds that the de facto regime did not allow for a transparent election.

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