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Ortega eyes a third term
Carmen Herrera
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Reelection would require constitutional change.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is eyeing a third term as president in the 2011 election, but it would require a change to the country´s 1995 constitution that prohibits consecutive reelection.

The charter also prohibits presidents who have served two previous terms from running again, which includes Ortega, who governed from 1984 to 1989.

But in October 2009, the Supreme Court, which is controlled by Ortega´s Sandinista National Liberation Front party and former President Arnoldo Alemán´s Liberal Constitutionalist Party, issued a resolution allowing Ortega to run in next year´s elections.

Ortega and Alemán, president from 1997 to 2000, have a power-sharing agreement in the government. Their parties also control the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, Comptroller´s Office, State Attorney’s Office, Attorney General´s Office, and the Human Rights Prosecutor´s Office.

To avoid opposition in Congress, Ortega decreed in January to keep officials whose terms were about to end — 25 judges and public officials aligned with the president.

Opposition lawmakers said that the measure only served to allow Ortega to run for president again.

Adolfo Martínez Cole, lawmaker of the opposition Bancada Democrática, a bloc of former members of the Liberal Constitutionalist Party, told Latinamerica Press that Ortega is emulating Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, and that he is “trying to stay in power eternally” and that it is a clear violation of electoral laws and the constitution “to satisfy his own continuist anxieties.”

Fraud as a political tool
Civil society organizations have also complained about Ortega´s aspirations, already wary of the leader after the 2008 municipal elections, in which fraud allegations emerged once his Sandinista party and the Liberal Constitutionalist Party emerged with most of the mayoral offices.

“Civil society organizations oppose this reelection because in the past it has only brought on more poverty and a deterioration of democracy in Nicaragua,” said Ana Quiroz, director of the Autonomous Women´s Movement.

Weak opposition
When Ortega took office in 2006, new lawmakers and his party made new alliances, dividing the opposition that held 52 of the 92 seats, including the seat of former President Enrique Bolaños, who governed from 2002 to 2007.

“Unfortunately, the opposition parties and deputies have not responsibly assumed their role and they´ve given their vote to the highest bidder,” said Quiroz. “This has the assembly paralyzed and laws that are fundamental for the country haven’t even been discussed.”

For legal expert Omar García, the Supreme Court´s resolution “doesn´t have enough weight” to ensure that Ortega could run again because he would need the support of 56 lawmakers to change the Constitution, which he does not have.

The newly formed Movement against the Reelection and Fraud, of former Sandinista party members, said: “Ortega´s new attempt to be reelected president exposes the fact that state institutions have crumbled and that political parties are accomplices in the attempt and act of such atrocity.”
—Latinamerica Press.

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