TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras, Feb. 1 (UPI) -- Honduras is eagerly awaiting the resumption of international aid that should have been restored after the November presidential elections but still remains blocked, officials said.
The United States and other donors suspended assistance programs in Honduras after President Jose Manuel Zelaya was removed from power on June 28, 2009.
Zelaya sneaked back to fight for reinstatement with help from supporters, but a November election ended his hopes. This week he flew to the Dominican Republic, which offered him a sanctuary.
Conservative businessman and politician Porfirio Lobo won election as the new president in a poll organized by caretaker interim President Roberto Micheletti.
A formula brokered by the United States that would have allowed Zelaya to preside over the election did not win approval.
As a result, Lobo's inauguration was shunned by most Latin American leaders and Lobo's legitimacy as a constitutionally elected new president was questioned by Zelaya, opposition leaders, Honduras's neighbors in Latin America and governments across the world.
Faced with the newly installed Lobo, albeit without the criteria insisted on by the Obama administration and the Organization of American States, diplomatic negotiators have been trying to work out an accommodation.
Analysts said both the United States and the European Union faced the unsavory task of coming round -- gradually, outside the glare of the media -- to the reality on the ground.
After Lobo's election, the Honduran Supreme Court exonerated all those involved in Zelaya's removal, including Micheletti, and told Zelaya he could also go without prosecution for alleged abuse of power, the charge that led to his downfall.
However, without a deal that will put an international stamp of approval on Lobo's presidency, Honduras faces an indefinite period of isolation and continued aid stoppages.
An EU statement on Lobo's inauguration gave no hint if European aid would be resumed any time soon. "The EU expresses its hope that his mandate will usher in a new era and the normalization of the relations of Honduras with the EU and the international community," the EU statement said.
U. S. Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Arturo Valenzuela said Lobo is taking his country "in the right direction" but the United States has not decided whether to restore aid to Honduras.
"We haven't made any determinations yet; the U.S. will evaluate the situation before restoring assistance," Valenzuela said during a visit to Tegucigalpa to attend Lobo's inauguration Wednesday.