Sat, Jun 04, 2011 - Page 3 News List

Taipei sought to influence Nicaraguan poll: WikiLeaks

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

Diplomatic cables recently released by WikiLeaks show that Taiwan sought cooperation with the US to influence Nicaragua’s presidential election in 2006 to reduce the odds of Daniel Ortega, who favored switching diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to China, being elected.

A cable, dated July 24, 2006, from the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and another dated Oct. 31 that same year showed Taiwan’s concern over the election. Ortega, leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, won the November polls.

In July, Ko Jai-son (柯吉生), then director-general of Central and South American Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, requested a meeting with the AIT on July 19, urging the US to encourage anti-Sandinista candidates to cooperate and field a single candidate against Ortega.

AIT Director Stephen Young said in the cable that Ko asked Washington to convince Eduardo Montealegre, leader of the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance, to accept a proposal from Jose Rizo of the Constitutional Liberal Party that would have the candidate who was trailing in the polls at a mutually agreed date withdraw from the race.

Ko was quoted as saying that the ministry was confident that if Taipei and Washington could persuade Montealegre to accept the proposal, the anti-Sandinistas would remain in power.

During the meeting, Ko cited polls provided by the ministry showing Ortega with a support rate of 30 percent, 6 points more than Montealegre and 9 points ahead of Rizo.

In the October cable, National Security Council Deputy Secretary-General Joanne Chang (裘兆琳) told the AIT that Taiwan was continuing to monitor the election closely, while expressing concern that the multiple candidates opposing the Sandinistas would hand victory to Ortega.

Chang said Taiwan had taken note of recent US statements that called on Nicaraguans to consider the future of US-Nicaragua relations when they went to the polls.

However, Chang demurred on questions about the extent and level of support Taiwan would be willing to provide to the candidates running against Ortega, Young said.

It was known that the US did not favor Ortega winning the election.

The left-leaning Ortega won with 37.99 percent of the vote, with Montealegre trailing behind with 28.3 percent and Rizo finishing third with 27.1 percent.

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