Honduras' Congress votes against return of ousted president

Honduras' Congress overwhelmingly voted against reinstating President Manuel Zelaya, shrugging off international pressure four months after a coup that isolated one of the poorest countries in the Americas.

After a 10-hour debate, politicians voted 111-14 not to return the leftist leader to power for the remainder of his term, which ends on January 27, as Washington and many Latin American governments had urged.

The vote was part of a US-brokered deal to end the crisis. It left restoring Mr Zelaya up to Congress.

Mr Zelaya, who listened to the proceedings from his refuge in the Brazilian Embassy, said even before the vote that he would not return for a token two months if asked.

He said he should have been reinstated before Sunday's presidential election and urged governments not to restore ties with the incoming administration of Porfirio Lobo.

"Today, the politicians at the service of the dominant classes ratified the coup d'etat in Honduras," Mr Zelaya said in a statement released shortly after the vote. "They have condemned Hondurans to exist outside the rule of law."

Honduras' interim leaders have proven remarkably resistant to diplomatic arm-twisting since the June 28 coup, rejecting near universal demands that Mr Zelaya be restored to his office before the previously scheduled election.

Now politicians have even snubbed international demands that he be allowed to serve the final two months of his presidency.

Politician after politician insisted they were right the first time when they voted to oust Mr Zelaya for ignoring a Supreme Court order to cancel a referendum on changing the constitution.

That vote happened hours after soldiers stormed into Mr Zelaya's residence and flew him into exile in his pyjamas.

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