Latin America

Anti-Sandinista rebels cornered

While public support grows for the Sandinista National Liberal Front (FSLN), opposition parties appear determined to use the full force of their power to prevent a new defeat in the upcoming November elections.

Daniel Ortega, presidential candidate for Nicaragua
Daniel Ortega, presidential candidate for Nicaragua

Alfredo G. Pierrat

With a week to go before the date set by the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) for parties to register for the elections and a little less than a month away from the deadline for announcing their presidential candidates, opposition parties have begun to increase their attacks against the Government and its President, Daniel Ortega.

On the verge of its IVth special conference, the FSLN have organized nearly a hundred town and departmental assemblies in the past fifteen days, which have been characterised by unanimous support for Ortega’s political project, founded on principles of “Christianity, socialism and solidarity”

Those who head up the Sandinista ministerial departments were of the view that these assemblies had clearly demonstrated the public’s majority commitment to use the ballot box to ensure that this project is carried out for another five years, giving continuity to social programmes that have been introduced in aid of the most vulnerable sectors of society.  According to these reports, and similar ones published by local councils and departments, support for the candidacy of Daniel Ortega for a new term as State leader also appears to be practically unanimous, to guarantee that his management of the Government continues.

In a scenario in which everything points to an FSLN victory, with Ortega as the presidential candidate, it was almost inevitable that opposition ideologists would map out a strategy to prevent him from standing, by calling it unconstitutional and illegitimate.

Article 147 in the Nicaraguan Political Constitution explicitly prohibits a sitting president from seeking re-election, but in October 2009, the Constitutional Court of the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ) issued a ruling that rendered this article, which appears in the Magna Carta, inapplicable and extended it to vice-presidents, mayors and deputy mayors.

The sentence was ratified shortly thereafter by the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), which then opened its doors to leaders for the 2011 general elections. A number of other decisions have since strengthened the legality of the CSJ ruling, which had, in the meantime, become the focus of opposition attacks in their attempt to try and regain the power they had lost in 2006, after 16 years of neo-liberal government.

The opposition’s strategy is based on the premise that by removing the most popular and emblematic Sandinista leader from the equation in the upcoming November elections, they will increase their chances of winning a victory. However, in light of the huge support shown in the past few weeks, everything points to the FSLN congress once again nominating Daniel Ortega as their presidential candidate, a fact that some opposition leaders have started to accept as irrevocable.

In spite of this, and the fact that divisions in the ranks of the opposition are growing daily, they do all agree that Ortega’s candidacy is illegitimate and have openly branded him a dictator with pretensions of keeping himself in power and have called his highly likely election victory fraudulent.

This is why opposition leaders, backed by non-governmental organisations funded by money that comes from unspecified sources, have, for several weeks now, been insistently appealing for foreign observers to witness local polls; the latest battle cry in their war against Sandinism.

The opposition has turned to international organisations and foreign governments for support, to pressure the Government into accepting foreign observers, but has to date met with little success. The reality is that the battle fought between Sandinistas and opposition parties has a tendency to intensify and, as the election date draws near, this will become more pronounced, but it seems unlikely, at least for the moment, that the severity of these political run-ins will affect the final outcome.  (PL)

(Translated by Arianne Matthews – Email: toarianne@hotmail.com)

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