Washington – Representatives of the 33-nation Organization of American States voted overwhelmingly here Wednesday to restore Honduras' membership in the hemispheric body.
The Central American country was suspended from the OAS on July 4, 2009, a few days after then-Honduran President Mel Zelaya was ousted in a military coup.
After the 32-1 vote, the chair of the OAS Assembly, Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, invited the Honduran delegation to occupy their country's designated spot in the chamber.
The diplomats present at OAS headquarters in Washington stood and applauded as Honduran Foreign Minister Mario Canahuati and two senior colleagues entered the meeting hall.
Besides lifting the suspension of Honduras, the OAS agreed to monitor the national reconciliation accord adopted by the Honduran government and opposition at a May 22 conference in Cartagena, Colombia.
The only country to oppose Honduras' restoration to the OAS was Ecuador, whose ambassador, Maria Isabel Salvador, said conditions in the Central American nation did not justify ending the suspension.
Some of the people who took part in Zelaya's ouster remain in public posts and a number of the coup-plotters have been exonerated by the courts, Salvador said.
"Impunity favors chronic violations of human rights and non-observance (of the law) creates a precedent for them (the violations) to recur," the Ecuadorian representative said.
Zelaya's return to Tegucigalpa last Saturday after more than a year in exile opened the door for the OAS to reinstate Honduras.
His homecoming followed the meeting in Cartagena, where Zelaya and current Honduran President Porfirio Lobo reached agreement amid some friendly prodding by Colombian head of state Juan Manuel Santos and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez.
Zelaya managed to slip back into Honduras in September 2009 and spent nearly four months holed up at the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa.
He left for the Dominican Republic on Jan. 27, 2010, after the newly inaugurated Lobo granted him a safe conduct.
Zelaya was overthrown on June 28, 2009, hours before a non-binding referendum he called on convening an assembly to overhaul the Honduran Constitution, a charter imposed in the early 1980s by the armed forces.
Lobo came to power in elections overseen by the coup regime.