Long-time Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega, criticized internationally for detaining opposition figures ahead of the November elections, will run for a fourth consecutive presidential term, a high-ranking ally said on Monday.
Ortega, 75, will be the Sandinista National Liberation Front’s ruling candidate in the November 7 presidential election, Nicaraguan parliament speaker Gustavo Porras told state television.
He predicted that the victory was “indisputable”.
Six opposition presidential candidates among the 26 people detained by the Ortega government since last month, will not be allowed to stand for election.
In a crackdown that began on June 2, Ortega’s government rallied its political rivals in a series of home raids and nightly arrests for undermining Nicaraguan “sovereignty”.
The charges are rooted in a law initiated by Ortega and approved by parliament in December, widely criticized as a way to freeze challengers and silence opponents ahead of the election.
The law prohibits “those who demand, celebrate and applaud the imposition of sanctions against the Nicaraguan state” from running for public office.
The first person to be arrested was Cristiana Chamorro, widely regarded as the favorite to beat Ortega, but now under house arrest on government money laundering allegations.
Her mother, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, overthrew Ortega in 1990 to become Latin America’s first elected woman president.
– ‘There are no more allies’ –
Ortega, who was widely expected to seek a reappointment, has yet to make an announcement himself.
Presidential candidates will be able to register from July 28 to August 2.
Ortega says those gathered by his forces are “criminals” seeking to overthrow him with the support of the United States.
But the crackdown has drawn international condemnation and new sanctions, with the United States calling the longtime leader a “dictator.”
The European Union has said that it is “inconceivable” that the November elections “come far closer to democratic competition”.
# photo1 A scorching Marxist in his youth, Ortega and his Sandinistas overthrew a corrupt autocratic regime to popular applause and took control of the country in 1979.
He was elected president in 1984 and reigned until 1990 when he was defeated by Chamorro, then returned to power in 2007. He won two successive re-elections.
His vice-president since 2017 is his wife, Rosario Murillo.
Ortega has been accused of increasing authoritarianism by the opposition and the international community, especially following the brutal crackdown on anti-government protests in 2018 that left more than 300 dead and thousands in exile, defense organizations say Rights.
In May this year, the Nicaraguan parliament appointed a majority of ruling party-aligned magistrates to the electoral body that will oversee the November elections.
Luis Carrion, Ortega’s former ally and cabinet minister, said the president’s actions revealed the “weakness” of his government, “without internal allies, his own base deteriorating, internationally isolated and rejected by the people”.
Carrion said he left Nicaragua to avoid possible arrest himself.
Moises Hassan, another former comrade of the president, told AFP that there had been a “widespread rejection” of Ortega, who “no longer has allies” even among other former left-wing revolutionaries. Latin America – besides Cuba and Venezuela, which remain faithful.
© 2021 AFP