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Daniel Ortega's 'dictatorial regime' repressing protests, Nicaraguan groups say

By Andrew V. Pestano
Daniel Ortega's 'dictatorial regime' repressing protests, Nicaraguan groups say
Nicaraguan organizations on Wednesday accused President Daniel Ortega's regime of repressing protesters who are voicing opposition to the proposed Nicaragua Canal and to recent elections, which they say were fraudulent. Photo courtesy of Women's Autonomous Movement

MANAGUA, Nicaragua, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- Nicaraguan civil society organizations, consolidated in a movement called Blue and White, on Wednesday accused President Daniel Ortega's regime of repressing protesters.

The organizations are protesting alleged electoral fraud in recent presidential elections in which Ortega won and also the planned construction of the Nicaragua Canal, which would connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, akin to the Panama Canal.

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The organizations will hold marches on Thursday in Managua, Nicaragua's capital.

"As it is known to the people of Nicaragua, from yesterday the forces of the National Police and the Nicaraguan Army, with unidentified auxiliary forces, have deployed a gigantic operation that has placed the country in a virtual state of siege," the Blue and White organizations said in a joint statement on Wednesday. "Despite the police and government blockade, farmers' caravans have already been successful. Thousands have left their homes and communities and although they are being blocked. They have uncovered the true face of Ortega's repressive and dictatorial regime."

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The organizations demand the Nicaraguan government "repeal the concession of the inter-oceanic canal and demand clean, honest, plural and observed elections."

Ortega earlier this month won a third consecutive term in office. Opposition politicians called the elections "fraudulent." International observers were not allowed to monitor the election.

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Though Nicaragua's constitution limits presidents to one term, a court decision allowed Ortega to run for re-election in 2011. A constitutional amendment was later created, allowing unlimited presidential terms.

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Main opposition candidates were banned from running by Nicaragua's Supreme Court, which has been accused of working to serve Ortega's interests. The Supreme Court also banned several opposition leaders from heading opposition parties, which weakened the opposition and led Nicaragua's parliament to be ruled entirely by Ortega's party and its allies.

"We demand that the repression of the peasant movement be stopped and they be allowed to return to their communities without repression -- that there be no acts of persecution once they return home," the organizations said.

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