Hondurans vote for civilians rulers

Hondurans voted Sunday for a national legislature that will chart their country's return to civilian government in an election with special significance in the troubled Central American region. The 71-seat Constituent Assembly will direct the tranfer of power from the military junta, which has ruled Honduras for the past eight years, at a time when two of the country's immediate neighbors are gripped by political violence.

As men and women lined up at separate polling places, newspapers and broadcasters urged the country's 1.2 million registered voters to ignore abstention calls and back the return to democracy. Armed soldiers in combat dress stood guard at the voting stations.

Left-wing parties and the left-of-center Christian Democrats, barred from the election, are calling for a boycott to protest their exclusion. Three parties, all of them right wing or moderate, are contesting the election -- the first to be held since 1971.

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