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Honduras Swears in Porfirio Lobo as President


Wearing the presidential sash, Honduras' President Porfirio Lobo, waves after being inaugurated as the new president during a ceremony in Tegucigalpa, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010. (AP Photo/Eduardo Verdugo)

Honduras has sworn in newly-elected Porfirio Lobo
as President, after months of crisis over the fate of his ousted
predecessor, Manuel Zelaya.

Mr Lobo has said his first task as president will be to guarantee Mr Zelaya's safe passage out of Honduras.

removal last June of Mr Zelaya, who is holed up in Brazil's embassy in
the capital, divided opinion in Honduras and internationally.

Several nations refused to recognise the legitimacy of November's election.

Election pledge

Mr Lobo was sworn in at an open air ceremony, in the capital Tegucigalpa.

He said: "I pledge to be faithful to the republic and ensure its laws are enforced."

newly-elected president has said he wishes to restore international
ties and ensure the resumption of foreign aid, principally from the US.

"Can you imagine starting a government with a president imprisoned in an embassy. It wouldn't be fair," he said.

Mr Zelaya has indicated that he is ready to leave Honduras.

"I have an invitation... to go to the Dominican Republic and I will
accept... obviously with the approval of the new government," Mr Zelaya
told local radio.

His departure will mark the end of his
efforts to return to office after soldiers forced him into exile at
gunpoint on 28 June. He returned in secret in September and took refuge
in the Brazilian embassy.


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Mr Zelaya was removed amid a dispute
over his plans to hold a vote on whether a constituent assembly should
be set up to look at rewriting the constitution.

His critics
said the vote, which was ruled illegal by the Supreme Court, aimed to
remove the current one-term limit on serving as president and pave the
way for his possible re-election.

Mr Zelaya repeatedly said he
had no interest in staying in power but wanted to rewrite an outdated
constitution to guarantee fairer representation for all Hondurans.

Military cleared

ousting provoked international condemnation but diplomatic attempts to
persuade the interim government to allow Mr Zelaya to return to office
proved futile.

Several Latin American countries, including
Brazil and Venezuela, said recognising the election would amount to
condoning a coup.

But the US argued that Hondurans had the right to elect a president
in an election that was scheduled long before the crisis erupted.

Mr Lobo faces the challenge of bringing Honduras back into the
international fold, the country's institutions have taken steps to put
the crisis behind them.

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court cleared
six military commanders of exceeding their authority when they ordered
soldiers to expel Mr Zelaya.

And the Honduran Congress voted to approve an amnesty for both the military and Mr Zelaya, who had faced charges of treason.


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