Nicaraguans vote Sunday with Ortega likely winner

The Nicaraguan elections for president, vice-president, national assembly deputies and members of the Central American Parliament are Sunday. Current President Daniel Ortega is running for another term. His principal opponents are radio broadcaster Fabio Gadea of the Partido Liberal Independiente and former president Arnoldo Aleman of the Partido Liberal Constitucionalista.

Mendel Goldstein, European Union representative in Nicaragua, said that the pre-election atmosphere in Nicaragua was one of “calm and tranquility.” His colleague Luis Yañez, head of the EU election observer mission, said that the focus of the mission would be on the voting for members of the national assembly given that the polls do not show a close election for Ortega. The polling firm CID-Gallup released a poll taken between Oct. 10 and 17 which showed Ortega with 48 percent preference among those who intended to vote. Gadea followed with 30 percent while Aleman received only 11 percent support.

Conflicts could occur in the legislative vote, Yañez said. Ortega’s Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional and its allies want to get enough of a majority to amend the constitution, he added.

Jose Gabriel, another leader of the EU mission, said that the mission will pay particular attention to the actual voting, the vote count, the transmission of results, and the verification of the presence of poll watchers at the voting places. Gabriel said that the mission found disturbing the refusal to accredit national observer groups such as the Instituto para el Desarrollo y la Democracia. The EU mission, on election day, will have 90 observers from 28 countries in Nicaragua.

Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department released a communiqué about apparent irregularities which the statement said included the failure up until this moment to accredit certain reliable local organizations as observers.

The United States has, in the past paid Etica y Transparencia and the Instituto para el Desarrollo y la Democracia to observe elections in Nicaragua. The former has not applied for accreditation this year, but the latter last week still held hopes of accreditation.

There have been small flare-ups of violence, most particularly last week in the northern town of Murra but recently in other places as well, where citizens, usually members of the PLI Alliance, have rallied in front of their local electoral council offices and been disbursed by police.

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