TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Followers of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya decided Sunday not to form a political party and take part in 2013 elections, saying conditions are not in place for a democratic process.
Instead, some 1,500 delegates to the first general assembly of the People's National Resistance Front, known popularly as Resistance, opted to eschew elections and push for the Central American nation's constitution to be rewritten, an effort that was begun by Zelaya and led to his ouster.
"The conditions are not right to go to an electoral process," Zelaya's wife, Xiomara Castro, said in a speech Saturday. "To do that would require that the coup-mongers leave power and are punished."
Zelaya's campaign to rewrite the constitution angered Honduras' business elite in 2009, and when he ignored a Supreme Court order to cancel a referendum on the plan, he was deposed and flown out of the country at gunpoint.
Roberto Micheletti, a former congressional leader, took power on an interim basis, and Porfirio Lobo — who won the presidency in late 2009 in an election scheduled before the coup — replaced Micheletti the following January.
However, Zelaya supporters say Lobo's administration is illegitimate because that election took place under the government installed after the coup.
During the two-day general assembly, Resistance also ratified Zelaya as its leader.
Living in exile in the Dominican Republic, he has said he wants to return, but faces charges of fraud, usurping powers and falsifying documents.
Castro demanded that Lobo's government allow Zelaya to "return without conditions."
On the eve of the gathering, Zelaya urged his supporters to push a movement based on socialist principles and to "open as many fronts as possible, give no truce and show that we are invincible."