Thursday, February 2, 2023

Nicaragua’s Ortega sworn in as US for fourth time, EU imposes sanctions

WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS, Jan 10 (Reuters) – Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega was sworn in for his fourth consecutive term on Monday, hours after the United States and the European Union banned several figures in his government after elections. Washington later called a “sham”. ,

Ortega won the election held on November 7, when most of his political opponents were imprisoned, which drew widespread condemnation. US President Joe Biden called the election a “pantomime”, accusing the former Marxist guerrilla and Cold War adversary of the United States of rising totalitarianism.

Most Western and regional countries withdrew from the opening ceremony on Monday evening, although left-wing leaders such as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Cuban President Miguel Diaz Canale flew in to show their support.

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China, which has recently established relations with Nicaragua, also sent a delegation.

In a measured speech focused on the history of the Sandinista rebellion against former US-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza, Ortega vowed to keep “growing dreams and building roads” for the people of Nicaragua.

But Ortega’s opponents say the leader now presides over a government like Somoza, which was toppled in 1979 by Ortega’s left-wing Sandinista guerrillas.

Former Costa Rica President Laura Chinchilla called Ortega a “tyrant” before the ceremony.

“He shows his back to those who didn’t vote for him, who are isolated from the world, who don’t recognize his election,” the chinchilla said on Twitter.

Ortega’s government, which has been in power since 2007, did not respond to a request for comment.

Earlier in the day, the United States and the European Union imposed sanctions on Nicaraguan officials, including the defense minister.

Washington has imposed sanctions after several other actions with allies in recent months to increase pressure on Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo.

Analysts say that Ortega’s first term in power ended in 1990 and, upon his return as president in 2007, he began to gain control of key state institutions.

Election observers from the European Union and the Organization of American States were not allowed to check November’s vote, and journalists were barred from entering Nicaragua.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States and partners “will continue the ongoing abuses of the Ortega-Murillo regime and deploy diplomatic and economic tools to support the restoration of democracy and respect for human rights in Nicaragua.”

The US Treasury Department said in a separate statement that it imposed sanctions on six Nicaraguan officials on charges of state acts of violence, propaganda and targeting of independent media.

The Treasury action targeted the defense minister as well as officers from the military, the company overseeing the telecommunications and postal services, and the state-owned Nicaraguan Mining Company.

The US State Department is also taking steps to impose visa restrictions on 116 people accused of undermining democracy in Nicaragua, Blinken said, barring some mayors, prosecutors and police, prison and military officials from entering the United States. .

Responding to the moves against him, Ortega said in his speech that the United States and the European Union do not have the moral authority to impose sanctions.

“They don’t respect international law,” Ortega said.

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Reporting by Daphne Saledakis and Paul Grant in Washington and Robin Emmot in Brussels; Writing by Drazen Georgic; Editing by Doina Chiaku, Alistair Bell and Karishma Singh

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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