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Ex-leader Zelaya back in Honduras

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Former Honduras president Manuel Zelaya waves to supporters during a welcoming rally (AP)

Former Honduras president Manuel Zelaya waves to supporters during a welcoming rally (AP)

Supporters of Manuel Zelaya cheer his return to Honduras (AP)

Supporters of Manuel Zelaya cheer his return to Honduras (AP)

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Former Honduras president Manuel Zelaya waves to supporters during a welcoming rally (AP)

Former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya has returned from exile to a boisterous welcome from his supporters, ending a nearly two-year political crisis that started when the country's military deposed him in an internationally-condemned coup.

The Venezuelan-owned plane carrying the 59-year-old ex-president took off from neighbouring Nicaragua and landed at Tegucigalpa's international airport, where thousands of Zelaya supporters had set up a tent camp nearby, dancing and singing to celebrate his arrival.

Mr Zelaya's comeback in an internationally-brokered agreement paves the way for Honduras to re-enter the world community, which near-unanimously rejected the June 2009 coup that saw him whisked out of the country at gunpoint in his pyjamas. He lived for more than a year in exile in the Dominican Republic.

The Organisation of American States said it will consider Honduras' full reintegration into the hemispheric body on Wednesday.

Wearing his trademark white wide-brimmed hat, Mr Zelaya called for an end to coups in the impoverished Central American country and urged his cheering supporters to carry out only "peaceful resistance".

"The problem of poverty, of corruption, of the great challenges of Latin American societies won't be resolved through violence, but through more democracy," he told supporters after a motorcade took him from the airport to a nearby plaza.

The ex-president also supported the idea of a constituent assembly to reform the constitution, an idea that led to him being deposed.

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"I've come to look for an exit from our problems. We should look for an exit between the bad people who want to stay in the crisis and the good people who want to leave it," he said. "The constituent assembly is a democratic exit that we have."

Thousands greeted Mr Zelaya at the airport, many wearing the red and black colours of the Zelaya-allied National Popular Resistance Front, which formed after the coup.


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