Nicaragua’s Ortega seeks reelection in questioned vote

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The election will decide who holds the presidency for the following 5 years, in addition to 90 of the 92 seats in the congress and Nicaragua’s illustration in the Central American Parliament. Greater than 4.4 million Nicaraguan age 16 and above have been eligible to vote.

Ortega’s Sandinista Entrance and its allies management the congress and all authorities establishments. Ortega first served as president from 1985 to 1990, earlier than returning to energy in 2007. He just lately declared his spouse, Vice President Rosario Murillo, his “co-president.”

In June, police arrested seven potential presidential challengers on costs that primarily quantity to treason. They remained in detention on election day. Some two dozen different opposition leaders have been additionally swept up forward of the elections.

The opposite contenders on Sunday’s poll have been little recognized politicians from minor events seen as pleasant with Ortega’s Sandinista Entrance.

On Saturday, the Blue and White Nationwide Union, an opposition alliance, issued an alert after at the very least eight of its leaders have been “kidnapped by the regime in unlawful raids” Saturday afternoon and night.

The Civic Alliance, one other opposition coalition, reported “harassment, surveillance, intimidation, assault, assaults, unlawful and arbitrary detentions” of a few of its leaders round Nicaragua.

The heads of the police and armed forces mentioned the vote was occurring with out incident.

Voting by means of the morning seemed to be calm and with out lengthy strains.

Voter Mayela Rodríguez discovered her native voting heart at a college in Managua just about empty. “In previous years it was actually full,” she mentioned. “Earlier than you needed to (wait) in a giant line to come back right here and now, empty.”

Round noon, Ortega spoke reside on tv after voting — he held up his inked finger.

He blasted the US for interference in Nicaragua, famous there had been alleged fraud in the final U.S. election, reminded that those that stormed the U.S. Capitol have been referred to as terrorists and stay jailed. He repeated his declare that the U.S. authorities supported large protests in Nicaragua in April 2018, which he has referred to as an tried coup.

“They’ve as a lot proper as we do to open trials towards terrorists,” Ortega mentioned.

“The immense majority of Nicaraguans are voting for peace and never for warfare or terrorism,” he mentioned.

One of many first to vote Sunday was International Minister Denis Moncada at a secondary college in the capital. “Nearly all of Nicaraguans are going to elect right this moment Commander Daniel (Ortega), comrade Rosario (Murillo) and the deputies,” Moncada mentioned to pro-government information retailers.

He mentioned the peaceable vote sends a message to the world powers that “Nicaraguans are dignified patriots and we aren’t going to bend to their threats, sanctions and non-recognition of the elections.”

Presidential candidate Guillermo Osorno of the small Christian Path get together voted early Sunday. He promised that if he defeated Ortega he would “change the electoral system” and permit election observers.

In the meantime in Costa Rica, a whole bunch of Nicaraguans dwelling in exile there protested towards Ortega’s authorities, calling Sunday’s vote an “electoral circus” and demanding the discharge of political prisoners.

“We’re protesting towards the fraud and asking for justice for these killed,” mentioned Kevin Monzón, a younger influencer who fled to Costa Rica in late September after receiving threats.

With little doubt as to the presidential election outcome, focus is already turning to what the worldwide response will likely be as Ortega seeks to tighten his grip on energy.

America and European Union have imposed sanctions towards these in Ortega’s inside circle, however Ortega responded solely by arresting extra of his opponents.

On Friday, a senior U.S. State Division official, who spoke with reporters on the situation of anonymity, mentioned the U.S. authorities was prepared to think about further focused sanctions, however had tried to keep away from measures that will extra broadly influence the Nicaraguan individuals.

“It is vitally onerous when you have got a authorities that has very minimal targets that embody remaining in energy at any price and disregarding the desire of their very own residents or the wants of the residents to retain that energy,” the official mentioned.

The Group of American States has condemned Nicaragua’s holding of political prisoners and unwillingness to carry free and honest elections, however Ortega’s authorities has solely railed towards overseas interference.

The regional physique will maintain its annual common meeting in Guatemala later this week. Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico have been amongst seven international locations that abstained from a vote on a decision final month in the OAS condemning the repression in Nicaragua.

In Nicaragua, polls have been scheduled to shut at 6 p.m. Sunday and the Supreme Electoral Council mentioned the primary partial outcomes could be launched round midnight. Provisional vote totals are anticipated Monday.

Some 30,000 police and troopers have been deployed to safe voting, in response to the federal government.

Gerardo Berthin, director of Latin American and Caribbean applications for the democracy promotion group Freedom Home, mentioned Sunday the vote was going as scripted by Ortega.

“That is what they need in phrases of displaying individuals voting, though we all know that they’ve lists really of people that work for the federal government and they’re checking who’s going and who shouldn’t be,” Berthin mentioned.

He mentioned he hoped the worldwide neighborhood would current a extra unified entrance and improve stress on Ortega, together with by means of worldwide lending establishments which have stored his authorities afloat.

Freedom Home displays civil rights in international locations around the globe. Berthin mentioned Nicaragua is without doubt one of the international locations the place basic rights have deteriorated essentially the most in the previous 15 years.

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