25 seconds ago 2009-12-13T04:28:48-08:00
TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Honduran activists have ended five months of daily protests demanding the reinstatement of their president since he was ousted in a coup, say they're moving on now that Congress has voted to keep Manuel Zelaya out of office.
Juan Barahona, who has been leading protests since late June when Zelaya was forced out of the country, said Friday that his supporters are "closing that chapter" of their struggle.
Barahona said it's time for Hondurans who support policies in favor of the poor and other themes that Zelaya espoused to shift their focus to the 2014 elections.
Hondurans elected conservative, wealthy rancher Porfirio Lobo to be their new president in the Nov. 29 elections. Lobo says that when he takes office in January he will finally end the political crisis that has isolated one of Latin America's poorest countries.
Some countries, including the U.S., have recognized Lobo's election. But others, including Brazil, Bolivia and Argentina, say they won't unless Zelaya is restored to office.
In Costa Rica on Friday, President Oscar Arias called Lobo and asked him to consider granting Zelaya amnesty. Arias did not disclose Lobo's response.
Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, said the administration of President Barack Obama has been "behind the curve" when it comes to Honduran policy.
"Instead of crafting a stance that would prove harmonious with domestic and international goals, Washington's failed Honduras policy became an embarrassment for its lack of grace and class," he said Friday.
Washington initially indicated it would not recognize the presidential election unless the coup perpetrators restored Zelaya. But the Obama administration later backed down and recognized Sunday's vote.
In another sign Friday of the world's mixed response to Honduras' current political status, the Latin American Parliament voted to suspend the Central American country's congress from its ranks as punishment for the coup.
"It saddens us a great deal that it had to come to this," said parliament representative Maria Augusta Calle, of Ecuador.