Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Ortega a shoo-in ‘evening’ in Nicaraguan vote

Nicaragua’s people vote on Sunday for a presidential election that has been dismissed as a “sham” by the international community, with long-term leader Daniel Ortega being all viable challengers or locked in exile.

As Ortega, 75, set to claim a fourth consecutive term – his fifth overall – the United States described Nicaragua as a “cautionary tale” in which to “remain in power at any cost”. determination”.

“It will be quite clear that these elections will have no credibility, that they are a sham,” Patrick Ventrell, the US State Department’s director of Central American affairs, said on Thursday.

“We’re going into a scenario where you have a dictatorship, and we have to respond to that.”

Just three years after mass protests against his regime and violent crackdown that killed more than 300 people, Ortega has been assured another five-year term along with his wife and 70-year-old vice president Rosario Murillo.

Seven of the 39 opposition figures who had a real shot at the presidency were detained in the brutal government crackdown that began in June.

Ortega, leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), faces five opponents, though just in name – all ridiculed as allies of the regime.

The vote in the poorest country in Central America will take place without international observers and most foreign media will be denied entry into the country.

Nicaragua’s last protest daily, la prensa, its director was jailed in August, and Facebook announced this week that it had shut down a government-run troll farm spreading anti-Semitic messages.

Amid the repression, fear mingles with apathy among Nicaragua’s 4.3 million eligible voters. Voting is not compulsory in a country of 65 lakhs.

“There’s nobody to vote. Daniel (Ortega) has it in the bag,” a 46-year-old woman told AFP in Masaya, 35 kilometers south of the capital Managua.

He asked not to be named. “No one can talk. You’ll go to jail,” she said.

all sewn

A flamboyant Marxist in his youth, Ortega ruled Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990, when US-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza DeBele was ousted by guerrillas.

After returning to power in 2007, he won re-election three times, becoming more and more authoritarian and abolishing the presidency.

In a recent seed-Gallup poll, two-thirds of respondents said they would have voted for the opposition candidate on Sunday.

The favorite was Cristiana Chamorro, daughter of Violet Barrios de Chamorro, who is the only person to defeat Ortega in an election in 1990.

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But Chamorro is under house arrest, and six other presidential candidates are behind bars, with his family members pleading for torture.

The jailed opposition figures are accused of unspecified attacks on Nicaragua’s “sovereignty” under a law passed by a parliament dominated by Ortega allies, who also control the judicial and electoral branches.

Election officials have banned the country’s main opposition coalition, Citizens for Freedom, from contesting Sunday’s vote, just as Ortega won unopposed in 2016.

Three political parties and dozens of civil organizations are banned.

‘A complete show’

A group of Nicaraguan and international NGOs this week urged the United Nations to investigate “gross human rights violations” under Ortega’s regime.

“Ortega will continue in power … and the repression against those who defend human rights and think differently to the regime will likely worsen,” said the group which calls itself Colectivo 46/2.

In addition to the nearly 150 political opponents known to be behind bars, more than 100,000 Nicaraguans are in exile – mainly in Costa Rica, Miami and Madrid – to avoid arrest.

For Ortega – whose main allies are Venezuela, Cuba and Russia – his jailed critics are not political prisoners, but “criminals” trying to overthrow him with US support.

‘Dictator’

The wave of arrests has soured relations with the United States and the European Union, which have imposed sanctions against members and associates of the Ortega family.

The EU’s foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, dubbed Ortega a “dictator” staging “fake” elections, and on Wednesday the US Congress approved a law to introduce punitive measures.

In the United States, Europe and other Latin American countries, opponents of the Ortega regime are planning protests on Sunday and agitating for a boycott of the vote.

In Nicaragua itself, gatherings of more than 200 people have been banned, apparently as a measure to contain the coronavirus.

More than 30,000 police and army have been deployed to guard 3,000 polling stations.

Voting is scheduled to open at 1300 GMT (7:00 a.m.) and close 11 hours later.

The result, as can be predicted, is expected on the same day.

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This article is republished from – Voa News – Read the – original article.

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