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Honduras Readmitted to OAS

Porfirio Lobo, the President of Honduras, speaks at a session during the ceremony of the 41st General Assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS) in San Salvador June 6, 2011. The meeting is themed "Security in the Americas", and will see the re

Following the return of exiled leader Manuel Zelaya to Honduras, the OAS voted to allow Honduras to resume its participation in the organization.

Following the return of exiled leader Manuel Zelaya to Honduras, member countries of the Organization of American States, or OAS, voted to allow Honduras to resume its participation in the organization.

"The United States," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "welcomes [the] decision by members of the Organization of American States to lift the suspension of Honduras' participation in the organization. This moment has been a long time coming, and it's an important milestone for Honduras, for the OAS, and for the Americas."

The coup and political crisis in Honduras was a test for the OAS's ability to safeguard our shared democratic values. In 2009, President Zelaya was toppled in a coup d'etat after he refused to comply with court orders barring him from carrying out his plans to hold a national plebiscite asking voters if they wished to have a question inserted on the November 2009 general election ballot about whether a constituent assembly should be convened to consider whether changes should be made to the Honduran constitution. Zelaya's opponents claimed that he was trying to get around a constitutional provision limiting Honduran presidents to a single term. He denied that was his intent.

International sanctions and months of negotiations, initially facilitated by former Costa Rican President Oscar Arias and subsequently led by the U.S. and the OAS, failed to persuade the de facto regime, which took power after the coup and which was not accepted as a legitimate government by the U.S. and the rest of the international community, to restore President Zelaya to power.

The OAS Inter-American Democratic Charter was invoked. Honduras was suspended from the OAS. Thanks to the efforts of Honduran President Porfirio Lobo, who was elected in free and fair elections in November 2009, and his commitment to national reconciliation, and the tireless efforts of several OAS member states, the suspension on Honduras' participation in the OAS was lifted. This accomplishment strengthened the OAS's capacity and credibility to address effectively challenges to democracy and threats to peace and prosperity. But there's more work to be done, said Secretary Clinton.

"A return to the OAS allows Honduras to resume its rightful place in the Inter-American system," said Secretary Clinton, "to help other countries in the hemisphere address common challenges and seize new opportunities. Honduras's government and people have the tools to improve governance, strengthen democratic institutions, and safeguard human rights so that all Hondurans have the chance for a brighter future."