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Manuel Zelaya attacks 'fraudulent' Honduras election

Manuel  Zelaya in the Brazilian embassy compound where he has been since returning secretly to Honduras in September
Mr Zelaya says he is not ready to resume office under fraudulent conditions

Deposed Honduran president Manuel Zelaya says the election of Porfirio Lobo as the next president has served only to intensify the political crisis.

Official turnout figures of some 60% were fraudulent, he told the BBC.

Mr Zelaya, ousted in June, said he would refuse reinstatement even if Congress voted this week to restore him to serve out his term until January.

Regional reaction has been split, with several nations opposing the election, while the US gave a cautious welcome.

"It's a significant step for Honduras to go back to order but it's just that. It's only a step and it's not the last step... It's not sufficient," said US assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Arturo Valenzuela.

Peru, Panama, Colombia and Costa Rica voiced support for the elections.

But other nations, including regional power Brazil, as well as Argentina and Venezuela, have refused to recognise the vote, arguing it was held under an illegitimate government.

'Honduran reality'

Mr Zelaya, speaking to BBC Mundo from inside the Brazilian embassy where he took refuge in September, said the election of Mr Lobo had done nothing to change the situation.

Porfirio Lobo speaking after the Honduran election on 30 November
Mr Lobo is set to take office on 27 January

"Will the elections change the military leadership that conducted the coup that ousted me? It remains the same. Will the elections change the composition of the Supreme Court that issued an arrest warrant [against me] without due cause? It remains the same," Mr Zelaya said.

The Honduran Congress is due to vote on Wednesday on whether Mr Zelaya should be restored to office to serve out his term until the next president takes office on 27 January.

For Mr Zelaya, the session would have no legal basis.

"I will not accept restitution to legitimise a fraud, nor to legitimise or whitewash a coup," he said.

Mr Lobo, who lost to Mr Zelaya in the 2005 election, said he would form a unity government and seek dialogue.

He also urged the international community to "understand the Honduran reality and stop punishing the country".

Mr Zelaya was forced into exile on 28 June after trying 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 has repeatedly denied this and pointed out that it would have been impossible to change the constitution before his term in office was up.



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