Fri, Nov 21, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Opposition plans to annul Nicaraguan election

AFP , MANAGUA

Opponents of the leftist government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said on Wednesday they had enough votes in Congress to annul the disputed municipal elections on Nov. 9.

The Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) announced on Wednesday last week that the Sandinistas won 91 of the country’s 146 municipalities, including the capital — a result the opposition refused to accept.

The opposition has “incontrovertible proof of clumsy, shameless and massive fraud” carried out by the Electoral Council in coordination with the Sandinistas, said former Nicaraguan president Arnoldo Aleman, who heads the right-wing Liberal Party.

“We are exhausting all administrative and legal paths that the law allows ... And we are ready to declare the municipal election null and void,” Aleman said.

Pro-government Supreme Court Justice Rafael Solis dismissed the idea on Tuesday, saying that Congress had no authority to annul an election.

Aleman, Nicaraguan president between 1997 and 2002, did prison time after leaving office for corruption and embezzling government funds.

The biggest prize in the vote was the mayoralty of Managua, disputed between opposition leader Eduardo Montealegre — who narrowly lost to Ortega in the 2006 presidential vote — and former boxing star Alexis Arguello for the Sandinistas.

The Electoral Council said that Arguello won the race, but would nevertheless carry out a full vote recount.

The Electoral Council issued a statement on Wednesday blaming the news media for seeking to “torpedo” the vote results.

The media was carrying out a plot “that has been planned for months with support from the government of the United States” and the conservative opposition, CSE Spokesman Felix Navarrete said in a written statement.

“I can say without fear of making a mistake ... that the news media replaced the Electoral Council” by spreading misinformation, calling for civil disobedience and ignoring the outcome at the ballot box, he said.

At least five journalists have been wounded in the past days amid pro-government and anti-government clashes.

Meanwhile, five pro-opposition radio stations were either attacked or prevented from broadcasting, a number of local newspapers reported.

Workers at one of the radio stations said more than 40 hooded men that were armed with rifles arrived aboard several trucks, pushed around station employees, destroyed the broadcast equipment and then took office documents when they left.

“This is the fifth time that the [Sandinistas] destroyed our radio station,” Radio Dario owner Juan Toruno said.

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