Nicaragua elections: Ortega re-elected

Image copyright Nicolas Ortega Image caption Ortega has ruled since 2007 Nicaraguan voters have chosen to stay in the hands of the same opposition leader as since the Sandinista revolutionaries in 1979, when President…

Nicaragua elections: Ortega re-elected

Image copyright Nicolas Ortega Image caption Ortega has ruled since 2007

Nicaraguan voters have chosen to stay in the hands of the same opposition leader as since the Sandinista revolutionaries in 1979, when President Daniel Ortega took over after the assassination of the right-wing president Anastasio Somoza.

While Nicaraguan members did not choose to keep him in power, Mr Ortega was re-elected against an extreme neoliberal agenda to continue the same destructive course.

The outcome – described as a “parody” by the Organisation of American States – has left many in shock.

Mr Ortega won his fifth consecutive term with 51.6% of the vote. His opponent Daniel O’Donnell picked up 41.1%.

The Nicaraguan electoral body declared the result final as both contenders refused to concede defeat.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Sergio Ramirez captured the rare photograph of Mr Ortega coming out to vote

The Central American nation has often been called a “failed state” and the centre of regional cocaine trafficking. However, US officials have acknowledged the present government has avoided the civil unrest that occurred following its previous period of power, which ran between 1996 and 2007.

The election, accompanied by elections to the Sandinista party, marked Ortega’s return to power. Ortega remained in charge of the group which seized power.

He has been re-elected six times – three times to the presidency and three times in other roles.

After decades of peaceful conflict, Nicaragua took the central stage in the 1980s when its independence from the US became threatened, with the Sandinistas taking power.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Despite their differences, Mr Ortega and opposition rival Daniel O’Donnell expressed mutual respect to journalists on election day

Many have been sceptical about this week’s election.

Inevitably, former President and opposition candidate Arnoldo Alemán was accused of “coup-making” by Ortega supporters.

But while the election was contested in Nicaragua, the authorities were harsher against opposition leader Juan Carlos Navarro, who ran against Mr Ortega in 2015, and who served in the government from 2011 to 2015.

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Honduras’ President Juan Orlando Hernández claims highlands activists allied with the FSLN have been campaigning to topple him

Under international pressure, the San José Tribunal, the elections board, suspended campaigning until 3 June. It was also unclear if the opposition will decide to accept the results.

Nicaragua’s President Trump has recently moved towards the so-called soft authoritarianism and took on key international human rights organisations for the way Nicaragua is treated.

He has on other occasions criticised Venezuela, where Nicolás Maduro is also re-elected to a second term.

Meanwhile, Honduras’ President Juan Orlando Hernández, a close ally of Mr Ortega, is accused of seeking to remove highlands activists who have been allied with the FSLN and allied with Mr Ortega.

Mr Ortega has not made any comments yet and has probably kept up his usual silence to wait for the election outcome.

He has ruled since 2007 after Nicaragua voted for the revolutionary Sandinista party in a special election.

The Sandinistas have long cultivated Nicaragua’s poorest sectors, saying they could turn the country’s fortunes around, even after a US military blockade during the 1980s.

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