January 27, 2010 / 6:55 AM / 9 years ago

Factbox: Ousted Honduran president Manuel Zelaya

(Reuters) - Toppled President Manuel Zelaya was due to leave Honduras for exile in the Dominican Republic on Wednesday, seven months after he was removed from office by the military in a coup.

Here are some facts about the ousted president:

* An unlikely working class hero, Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales was born on Sept 20, 1952 to a wealthy ranching family in the region of Olancho, known for pistol- and machete-toting men with a macho streak. He made money from cattle and logging before being elected to Congress in 1985.

* Nicknamed “Mel” and known for his bushy mustache and white cowboy hat, Zelaya rose in the Liberal Party ranks until he was elected president as a moderate in 2005. He turned to the left once in office, raising the minimum wage, pushing social spending and creating powerful enemies by aligning himself with socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

* In 1975, there was a massacre of 14 peasant activists at the Zelaya ranch. Zelaya’s father was jailed for five years and later pardoned. Some Zelaya family supporters blame the massacre on the military.

* Zelaya’s term was due to run until this month. But the military forced him out of the country in his pajamas on June 28 after he clashed with Honduran business leaders, the Supreme Court, Congress and the military over plans to hold a vote gauging public support for extending presidential term limits. Zelaya’s critics said he was trying to keep himself in power but he has denied that was his intention.

Reporting by Sean Mattson and Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by John O'Callaghan

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