OAS to Vote to Restore Honduras as Zelaya Plans Return Home

The Organization of American States may vote to restore Honduras next month as a member of the regional group after the Central American nation agreed to ensure the safe return of former President Manuel Zelaya.

The vote to restore Honduras, which was expelled by the OAS following the military ouster of Zelaya in June 2009, will take place June 1, according to a resolution passed yesterday at an OAS meeting in Washington. Only Ecuador voiced opposition to Honduras’ return to the 35-member state group.

The country’s possible reinstatement comes after Honduran President Porfirio Lobo signed an accord May 22 with Zelaya, allowing him to return from exile and help reform the country’s laws. The agreement, brokered with the help of Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, also guarantees that Zelaya supporters can return safely to Honduras and form a party to participate in elections.

“Zelaya’s return will probably ratchet up tensions in the country, which has been beset by workers’ protests and rising crime and violence in recent months,” Heather Berkman, a political risk analyst at the Eurasia Group in New York, said by e-mail. Still, she added, “Zelaya’s political ambitions will probably not hamper the efforts of the Lobo administration to get the country’s economy back on track.”

Honduran soldiers sent Zelaya on a plane to Costa Rica in June 2009 after the country’s Supreme Court ruled that his push to rewrite the constitution was illegal. A court dropped the last remaining charges against the former president on May 2.

Zelaya, who spent almost five months in the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa after sneaking back into Honduras last year, has since remained in exile in the Dominican Republic. Zelaya has said he plans to return home before the end of May.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Sabo in Panama City at esabo1@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at goodman@bloomberg.net

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