Former Honduran President Manuel Zelaya left his refuge in the Brazilian Embassy and flew into exile Wednesday, ending months of turmoil and his thwarted 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 of 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 the former president. About 6,000 supporters gathered outside the airport yelled “Mel, our friend, the people are with you!” as his plane took off.
Lobo, who was sworn into office hours earlier, had said his first task as president would be providing Zelaya a safe passage out of the country.
“We have emerged from the worst crisis in the democratic history of Honduras,” said Lobo, 61, after taking the oath of office. “We want national reconciliation to extend to a necessary and indispensable reconciliation with the international community.”
Zelaya, who was ousted in a dispute over changing the Honduran Constitution, insisted he was still president up until the moment his four-year constitutional term officially ended Wednesday.
Zelaya left with his wife, two children and an aide after four months holed up in the embassy
A new president is inaugurated. An old president flies into exile. An amnesty is proclaimed. And Honduras ends its political crisis without giving into the Obama administration which demanded reinstitution of Zelaya.
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