Restoring civilian rule falls to Honduras centrists

This Central American republic has taken its first step away from eight years of military rule by electing its centrist Liberal Party to lead a new Constituent Assembly. The liberals, whose strong lead upset predictions of a safe victory by the right-wing National Party, are expected to hold about a 52 percent majority in the 71-seat Assembly when all votes from Sunday's election are counted. The military junta that overthrew the results of the last elections, in 1972, has instructed the Assembly to draw up plans for the transition to democracy and arrange for the elections of a new president.

The United States has given strong encouragement to Gen. Policarpo Paz Garcia , leader of the ruling military junta, in his plans for the return to democracy.

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