Ortega's Opponents Ask Voters to Sit Out Election

With rivals in jail, president seeks another term
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 7, 2021 11:30 AM CST
With Top Opponents in Jail, Ortega Seeks Reelection
A woman shows her ink-stained thumb after casting her vote Sunday.   (AP Photo/Andres Nunes)

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega sought a fourth consecutive term in elections Sunday against a field of little-known candidates, while those who could have given him a real challenge sat in jail. More than 13,000 polling places opened in the morning even as the opposition denounced more arrests of its leaders in activists around the county in the hours leading up to the vote, the AP reports. The opposition called on Nicaraguans to stay home in protest of an electoral process that has been roundly criticized as not credible by foreign powers. Some 30,000 police and soldiers were deployed to secure voting, the government said.

The election will determine who holds the presidency for the next five years, as well as 90 of the 92 seats in the congress and Nicaragua's representation in the Central American Parliament. More than 4.4 million Nicaraguan 16 and older were eligible to vote. Polls were scheduled to close at 6pm, and the first, partial results are due to be released around midnight. Ortega's Sandinista Front and its allies control the congress and all government institutions. Ortega first served as president from 1985 to 1990, then returned to power in 2007. He recently declared his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, his "co-president."

In June, police arrested seven potential presidential challengers on charges that essentially amount to treason. They remained in detention on Election Day. Some two dozen other opposition leaders were also swept up ahead of the elections. The other contenders on Sunday's ballot were little-known politicians from minor parties seen as friendly with the Sandinista Front. The Organization of American States has condemned Nicaragua’s holding of political prisoners and unwillingness to hold free and fair elections, but Ortega’s government has only railed against foreign interference. The US and European Union have imposed sanctions against those in Ortega’s inner circle, but Ortega responded only by arresting more of his opponents.

(More Nicaragua stories.)

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