Nicaragua’s presidential campaign gets underway, with no competitors.
Nicaragua’s presidential election campaign begins on Saturday, with all of incumbent Daniel Ortega’s top opponents detained.
Despite widespread condemnation of his government’s arrest of 37 opposition figures since June, the 75-year-old, who has been in power since 2007, will seek a fourth consecutive term in the November 7 election.
Ortega has chosen his wife Rosario Murillo, 70, vice president since 2017, as his running mate on the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) platform.
They will face candidates from five obscure right-wing parties, which are the only ones allowed to run by the government election commission.
“People understand that the electoral process will be anything but honest, and that the Sandinista Front will win to some extent,” said Edgar Parrales, a former Nicaraguan diplomat and commentator.
Since June 2, Ortega’s government has been accused of political persecution for collecting up opposition figures, including seven prospective presidential contenders, in a series of house and night-time raids.
The allegations against them are based on a statute proposed by Ortega and enacted by parliament in December, which has been widely criticized as a way to keep competitors at bay and silence critics.
The president accuses those detained of plotting to depose him with the help of the United States.
The bulk are in jail awaiting trial, where their loved ones say they are living in deplorable conditions, and a few are under house arrest.
Cristiana Chamorro, largely seen as the favorite to defeat Ortega, was the first to be imprisoned on suspicion of money laundering.
Last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed the November election in Nicaragua had “lost all legitimacy,” accusing the Ortega dictatorship of “undemocratic, dictatorial measures.”
Nicaragua has been requested to release the inmates by UN human rights leader Michelle Bachelet and the Organization of American States’ (OAS) human rights arm, but Ortega has refused.
Aside from the 37 opposition activists, some 100 additional Nicaraguans remain imprisoned for their roles in the regime’s violent suppression of anti-government protests in 2018.
According to observers, around 300 people were killed in the crackdown, and many were forced to flee the 6.5 million-strong country.
Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla, led Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990, when Chamorro’s mother, Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, deposed him and became Latin America’s first female president.
He came back to power in 2007, won two re-elections, and repealed all regulations that would have prevented him from remaining in power.
Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, France, and Chile will compete on Thursday. Brief News from Washington Newsday.