WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, who helped compel a change in U.S. policy on Honduras, Monday hailed the outcome of the Central American nation's presidential election.
DeMint, a South Carolina Republican, had held up two State Department nominations in a dispute over a Honduran coup.
"The people of Honduras have taken a bold stand against tyranny, and friends of freedom throughout the world should applaud their courageous defense of the rule of law," DeMint said.
Arturo Valenzuela, U.S. assistant secretary of state for the Western Hemisphere, recognized the Sunday voting, won by Porfirio Lobo, presidential candidate of the National Party. "He will be the next president of Honduras," Valenzuela said Monday.
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DeMint, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had blocked Valenzuela's nomination for months because the Obama administration was insisting deposed Honduras President Manuel Zelaya be restored to power.
The Honduran Army ousted Zelaya in a June 28 coup that the country's high court and Congress later recognized as legal.
Zelaya, a close ally of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, had been trying to extend his tenure by holding a referendum to remove presidential term limits.
DeMint, the only U.S. senator to visit Honduras during the five-month crisis, released his hold on Valenzuela's nomination and an ambassadorial nominee after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States would accept the election outcome.
DeMint, a critic of President Barack Obama on a range of issues - from stimulus spending to health care - praised the administration for its evolving policies in Honduras.
"I'm very encouraged by our administration's decision to stand with the Honduran people, recognize the elections, and commit to work with President-elect Lobo," DeMint said.
Some U.S. allies in Latin America and beyond had withheld their approval of the elections and continued to call for Zelaya's return to power.
Following the terms of a U.S.-mediated pact, the Honduran Congress is to vote Wednesday on whether to restore Zelaya as head of the government until Jan. 27, when Lebo takes office.