January 21, 2010 / 12:15 AM / 10 years ago

Dominican Republic offers to host Honduras' Zelaya

Ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya sits in the patio of the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa November 28, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer

TEGUCIGALPA (Reuters) - The Dominican Republic agreed with Honduras’ newly elected president on Wednesday to welcome ousted President Manuel Zelaya as a “guest” in an attempt to end his state of political limbo after a June coup.

Zelaya, who has been holed up in the Brazilian embassy in Tegucigalpa since he slipped back into Honduras in September, said he was studying the offer by Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez and Honduras’ President-elect Porfirio Lobo.

“The agreement establishes that President Manuel Zelaya, his family members and his circle of advisers can come to the Dominican Republic on January 27 as guests of the nation,” said a document signed by Lobo, Fernandez and representatives of Honduras’ major political parties.

Zelaya told a local news channel he appreciated the gesture but would have to wait until January 27 to make any decision about the accord.

If Zelaya accepts the offer, it would likely mean he would not return to Honduras to continue his political career.

Lobo is set to take office on January 27 after winning a November election, which many nations denounced as illegitimate since it was organized by the de facto government that toppled Zelaya.

Soldiers whisked Zelaya out of his home at gunpoint on an order from the Supreme Court after he angered the country’s business leaders and members of his own party with a bid to change the constitution.

His critics accused him of trying to stay in office past his term, following in the footsteps of Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez, a charge Zelaya denies.

Reporting by Gustavo Palencia in Tegucigalpa and Manuel Jimenez in Santo Domingo; Writing by Mica Rosenberg; Editing by John O'Callaghan

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