Honduras Election Sign of Democracy at Work

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For the past five months, two competing presidents have created conflict and divisions in the Central American nation of Honduras.

But the country's voters, encouraged by church leaders, may finally have brought an end to the crisis.

Record Voter Turnout

On Sunday, November 29 Honduran voters turned out in record numbers to elect a new president.

Their choice, conservative rancher Porfirio Lobo, has promised to bring the country together after a leadership crisis that has deepened social and political divisions in one of Latin America's poorest nations.

From his asylum in the Brazilian Embassy, deposed President Manuel Zelaya discredited Lobo's victory.

"The candidate who won the fraudulent elections of last Sunday, Porfirio Lobo Sosa had a 24-hour honeymoon with the people of Honduras, then after 24-hours he associated himself with the military dictatorship," Zelaya said.

But it was a defeat for Zelaya, who had called on Hondurans to stay away from the polls. Instead, voters turned out in record numbers, partly because Christian leaders encouraged them to do so.

Pastor: Christians Have Dealt a Blow to Indifference

Church leaders say more than a third of Honduras' population is evangelical. They waged a strong get-out-the-vote campaign.

According to Evelio Reyes, pastor of Vida Abundante Church, the result is a sign that democracy is working.

"We've dealt a blow to voter abstention; we've dealt a hard blow to indifference," Pastor Reyes said. "And I like that because it shows we're changing our society to one that's alert, a society that participates, that wants to make its opinions known."

After the elections, Congress decided it would not reinstate Zelaya for the remainder of his term, confirming last June's decision to remove Zelaya from power for ignoring decisions by Congress and the Supreme Court.

The newly elected Lobo is scheduled to take office January 27.

Meanwhile, most Hondurans hope they have seen the worst of the crisis that has damaged their economy and isolated them from much of the international community.

*Originally published December 4, 2009.

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Stan Jeter

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CBN News Senior Producer Stan Jeter specializes in Christian news and Latin American coverage.  He has lived and worked for many years in South and Central America, most recently developing the Spanish Christian news program, Mundo Cristiano.  Follow Stan on Twitter @StanJeterNews and "like" him at Facebook.com/StanJeterCBN.