President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, were proclaimed this Monday as candidates to seek a fourth successive term in the elections of November 7 in Nicaragua, while his main rivals are in prison.
The congress of the ruling Sandinista Front (FSLN) ratified the presidential couple with the unanimous vote of 2,932 assembly members, one of its leaders Gustavo Porras announced.
Ortega, a 75-year-old ex-guerrilla who has ruled since 2007 After two successive reelections, he aspires to settle in power for five more years together with Murillo, 70, who has been with him in the vice presidency since 2017.
“We are here to continue the fight against poverty”said Murillo dressed in a patterned suit and a lilac shawl.
The presidential couple, Rosario Murillo and Daniel Ortega. AP Photo
After their nomination, the couple will be registered in the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) that this Monday concludes the candidate registration period in a climate of tension between Ortega and the opposition, as well as new international sanctions adopted against the government.
The European Union (EU) sanctioned this Monday with immigration restrictions and financial support to Murillo, his son Juan Carlos and six other government officials for their responsibility in the “serious human rights violations” in Nicaragua.
Measure joins others taken by the United States and Canada against officials of the Ortega government, in protest of the repression it has maintained against its opponents since the outbreak of the anti-government demonstrations in 2018.
Ortega plans to compete in the November elections without strong opposition, after the police arrested seven presidential hopefuls between June and July.
One of them is Cristiana Chamorro, daughter of former president Violeta Barrios de Chamorro (1990-1997), who was the favorite to defeat the FSLN.
Cristiana Chamorro, one of those arrested. AFP photo
Opponents are accused mostly of “treason” to the fatherland, under the protection of a controversial law approved last December at the request of the government that punishes with jail (10 to 15 years) those who promote foreign interference and support international sanctions.
Most of the detained applicants had agreed to undergo the selection of a single opposition candidate under the banners of the Citizens for Freedom Alliance (CxL, right), but the charges against them inhibited them from participating.
Ortega has accused the imprisoned opponents of “terrorists” and “mercenaries” in the service of the United States.
With their opponents in jail, the Sandinistas are preparing to confront a right wing divided mainly into two blocks: the CxL alliance, weakened by the arrest of almost all his candidates, and the Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC), second parliamentary force and that has been indicated to collaborate with the government.
Ortega has been the only candidate that the FSLN has had dince the elections held in 1984 to legitimize the revolution that ended the Somoza family dictatorship in 1979.
He was defeated in the 1990, 1996 and 2001 elections by right-wing parties.
After returning to power in 2007, in the first years he managed to maintain a favorable climate for economic growth of between 4 and 5% per year, according to official data.
But the repression of the 2018 protests and the pandemic slowed the process of economic expansion and generated a political crisis that keeps more than 130 dissidents in prison, according to the opposition.
With its imprisoned candidates, CxL chose as its presidential formula a controversial couple made up of the ex-guerrilla from the so-called “Contra“Oscar Sobalvarro, 68, and former beauty queen Berenice Quezada, 27.
“We hope that the siege and repression will cease” against opponents so that the electoral campaign runs smoothly, Sobalvarro demanded after registering with the CSE.
Known as “Commander Rubén”Sobalvarro was one of the leaders of the defunct counterrevolution that the United States financed against the Revolution in the 1980s. He also serves as the first vice president of the CxL.
Quezada, a model with no political background who won the Miss Nicaragua pageant in 2017, advocated for her part for the release of the government’s “political prisoners”.
The formula wants to win the anti-Sandinista vote, but some citizens on social networks say that they are allies of the government because they were not arrested like the rest of the opponents.
In the afternoon, the PLC formula, integrated by the businessman, was also registered in the CSE. Milton Arcia and attorney María Moncada.
Nicaragua, of 6.5 million inhabitants, will elect in November the president, vice president, 92 national deputies and 20 deputies of the Central American Parliament.