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Page last updated at 23:29 GMT, Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Honduras ex-leader Manuel Zelaya offered safe passage

Ousted Honduras President Manuel Zelaya. File photo
Mr Zelaya has been staying in Brazil's embassy since September

Honduras' President-elect Porfirio Lobo has offered the country's ousted leader Manuel Zelaya safe passage to the Dominican Republic.

The deal was agreed by Mr Lobo and Dominican President Leonel Fernandez in Santo Domingo, officials say.

Under the agreement, Mr Zelaya would go to the Dominican Republic after Mr Lobo took office on 27 January.

Mr Zelaya was ousted and forced into exile in June. He later returned and took refuge in Brazil's embassy.

Dominican presidential spokesman Rafael Nunez said the agreement was signed by Mr Lobo and Mr Fernandez on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.

The agency also quoted Mr Lobo as saying: "We must all forgive. We strongly defend an amnesty for all, regardless of ideological differences we may have. It is in the interest of the Honduran people."

In Honduras, Mr Zelaya confirmed that the agreement had been reached, the AFP reports.

Honduras' interim government has so far refused to allow Mr Zelaya to travel without fear of arrest.

He has taken refuge in the Brazilian embassy in Honduras since his return to the country in September.

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.

Mr Lobo won presidential elections in November.



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