Ortega will win controversial poll in Nicaragua, according to the first results | Election News

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Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is on track to win a fourth consecutive term in office, preliminary results show, in an election preceded by a months-long crackdown on opposition figures and candidates.

Ortega’s victory was almost sure Before citizens voted on Sunday, only a handful of little-known candidates opposed him, and opponents considered their biggest possible threats to remain in prison.

Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council said early Monday that with about half of the votes counted, a preliminary recount gave Ortega about 75 percent of the votes in the presidential election, which had been widely condemned as illegitimate by rights groups, various Western powers, and regional organizations.

The council estimated turnout at about 65 percent of the 4.5 million Nicaraguans eligible to vote. The opposition had asked Nicaraguans to stay home in protest at what they said was a contaminated electrical process.

Late Sunday night, some of Ortega’s supporters began celebrating in the streets of the capital Managua, even before the final result.

“Yes we did, Daniel, Daniel!” They shouted in various neighborhoods as fireworks were set off, according to the AFP news agency.

Meanwhile, protests against Ortega took place in exiled Nicaraguan communities in Costa Rica, Spain, the United States and Guatemala.

Shortly before the first results were released, US President Joe Biden accused Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, of orchestrating a “pantomime election that was neither free nor fair.”

Nicaraguan Citizens Exiled in Costa Rica Demonstrate Against Elections [File: Ezequiel Becerra/AFP]

Costa Rica, Nicaragua’s southern neighbor, also rejected the election before preliminary results came out.

On Monday, Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albaren also described the elections as “a farce against the Nicaraguan people, a farce against the international community and above all a farce against democracy.”

International observers from the European Union and the Organization of American States were not allowed to participate, and journalists were prohibited from entering the country.

If the results hold, Ortega, whose Frente Sandinista party and its allies controlled Congress and government institutions before the elections, will remain president for another five years.

Ninety of the 92 seats in the country’s Congress and Nicaragua’s representation in the Central American Parliament were also on the ballot. Those results were not immediately released.

Repression of the opposition

As a young revolutionary, Ortega had helped overthrow the anti-communist strongman Anastasio Somoza in 1979 and first served as president from 1985 to 1990.

He returned to power in 2007 and has led an increasingly authoritarian government, according to rights watchers.

In 2018, security forces and pro-government armed groups violently repressed protests against the government in the county. More than 300 people died during the riots and since then at least 150 people have been arrested.

Ortega, for his part, had denounced the protesters as “terrorists,” and said again on Sunday that his presidency was “facing those who promote terrorism, finance the war, those who sow terror, death.” .

In June, police arrested seven potential presidential challengers on what human rights groups call false accusations that include undermining “national integrity,” working with foreign governments and money laundering. They were detained on election day.

Dozens of opposition figures have also been arrested in recent months.

On Saturday, the National Blue and White Union, an opposition alliance, issued an alert after it said that at least eight of its leaders were “kidnapped by the regime in illegal raids.”

Meanwhile, the Civic Alliance, another opposition coalition, denounced “harassment, surveillance, intimidation, assault, attacks, illegal and arbitrary detentions” of some of its leaders in Nicaragua before the polls.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega faced little-known rivals after his government arrested seven opposition candidates in June. [AFP]

In his statement, US President Biden said that Ortega and Murillo “now rule Nicaragua as autocrats, no different from the Somoza family that Ortega and the Sandinistas fought four decades ago.”

He called on the duo to take immediate action to restore democracy and to immediately release the detained opposition figures.

“Until then, the United States, in close coordination with other members of the international community, will use all the diplomatic and economic tools at our disposal to support the Nicaraguan people and hold the Ortega-Murillo government and those who facilitate its abuses accountable,” he said. Biden.

The United States and the EU have already imposed sanctions against those in Ortega’s inner circle, a move Ortega achieved by arresting more of his opponents.

On Friday, a senior US State Department official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, said the US government was willing to consider additional specific sanctions but had tried to avoid action. that would impact the Nicaraguan people more widely.

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