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Antony Blinken: “This is a final blow to free and fair elections in Nicaragua”

Ciudadanos por la Libertad remains silent on the stripping of its legal status by the Supreme Electoral Council

U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, issued a statement Saturday afternoon stating that the international community will have to assume that the cancellation of the legal status of Citizens for Liberty (CxL) by the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) meant the end of the legitimacy of Nicaragua’s electoral process.

“The decision by President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo this August 6 to ban the last genuine opposition party from participating in the November elections highlights their desire to remain in power at all costs. This autocratic maneuver follows the detention of seven presidential candidates and 24 other opposition figures, human rights activists, business leaders, students and NGO workers over the past two months. The United States views the regime’s latest authoritarian and anti-democratic actions, driven by Ortega’s fear of losing the elections, as the final blow against Nicaragua’s prospects for free and fair elections later this year. That electoral process, including its eventual results, has lost all credibility,” the Secretary of State’s statement said. 

The Alianza Ciudadanos por la Libertad (ACxL) has yet to issue an official pronouncement on the stripping of its legal status by the CSE, after using an expedited procedure to resolve a complaint filed by María Haydée Osuna, legal representative of the Partido Liberal Constitucionalista (PLC), an organization with a long history of political collaborationism with the Sandinista Front.

“The Ortega-Murillo regime has undermined its international commitments, including those of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, as well as the rights of the Nicaraguan people to freely elect their own leaders. We will continue to work closely with other democracies to respond diplomatically and economically to these nefarious developments, which only further deprive the Nicaraguan people of their desire for representative government and economic prosperity,” the statement added. 

Blinken subsequently tweeted that “the Ortega-Murillo regime’s decision to ban all democratic competition in the 2021 presidential election means that Nicaragua’s election cannot be considered credible by Nicaraguans, nor by the international community.”

The authorities of the ACxL held a meeting this Saturday to define strategies in the face of the attack perpetrated by the CSE, a body controlled by members of the Sandinista Front. However, although the press office of Ciudadanos por la Libertad reported that an official communiqué would be issued regarding the act by the electoral power, this did not happen.

Alberto Davila, president of the National Commission of Political Formation and Training of CxL, in brief statements to La Prensa newspaper, stated that the political party will use the corresponding legal tools to challenge the decision of the electoral power.

“It will comply with what is established by law. There will be some writs that have to be presented and we will continue the fight no matter what it costs and for as long as it will last. The objective is to recover the party. At this moment the legal commission is working, hopefully next week we will have something more structured”, Davila declared to the media. 

 

The cancellation of Citizens for Liberty leaves the electoral process in the hands of the Sandinista Front and its collaborationist parties. Photo: Confidencial | Nayira Valenzuela.

International condemnation for dispossession

Reactions to the cancellation of the legal status of the Citizens for Liberty party continue to come from all over the world. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) made a statement on its official Twitter account on Saturday, August 7, criticizing that these actions are not in line with human rights standards around the world.

“Yesterday’s cancellation of Citizens for Freedom, which already happened with two other parties, prevents the political participation of its members and voters. These decisions are not in line with human rights standards and are incompatible with free and fair elections,” reads the OHCHR account. 

The UK embassy in Nicaragua also commented on the cancellation of CxL, expressing its concern for the “deterioration of democracy in Nicaragua”.

From Venezuela, the Coordinator of Vente Venezuela, María Corina Machado, also made a statement, saying that Ortega defies the world and “decides to tie himself to power”. 

“Ortega defies the world and decides to tie himself to power. He feels untouchable. They are criminals, and they will only give in when they feel surrounded. My solidarity with CxL, Kitty Monterrey and with Nicaraguan democrats, who face tyranny,” Machado said via Twitter. 

Through a joint communiqué, The Liberal International together with the Liberal International Network of Latin America expressed their indignation and in addition, signaled Ortega of criminalizing democracy.

“These are the actions of a regime that has done everything to criminalize democracy in its country,  these are the last resources of a dictator who can no longer contain the desire of the Nicaraguan people to live in freedom,” they expressed. 

In the same document they expressed their concern for the safety of the people who are “harassed” by the Ortega regime, and made an international call to join efforts that will lead to the release of the political prisoners of the regime.

“We call on Daniel Ortega to revoke his decision to suspend Ms. Monterrey’s citizenship, and we ask him to release -immediately- all political opponents who were detained in this pre-electoral stage in the run-up to the November 2021 elections. We also raise our voice so that the international community pronounces itself and acts forcefully against these practices”, concludes the communiqué.

The Nicaraguan University Alliance also expressed its opposition to the decision of the Supreme Electoral Council and accused the Constitutionalist Liberal Party of being an accomplice of Daniel Ortega and the FSLN.

“The FSLN is convinced that it cannot win an election, without first eliminating its competition. Our solidarity with the CxL party,” they posted on their twitter account. 

The Conservative Party, considered a collaborationist party, whose legal status was also cancelled by the electoral power controlled by Orteguismo, expressed solidarity with the president of CxL, Kitty Monterrey.

“The Conservative Party (PC) rejects the cancellation of the legal status of CxL and the cédula of Kitty Monterrey and expresses solidarity with her and the members of her party” they published on Twitter. 

This Friday, August 6, after the approval of the Renacer Law in the US Senate, the Ortega regime received a complaint from the Constitutionalist Liberal Party (PLC) through its president and legal representative María Haydeé Osuna, for alleged faults committed by CxL against the Electoral Law.  As a consequence, the Supreme Electoral Council controlled by the Ortega government cancelled the legal status of CxL and the Nicaraguan identity card of Kitty Monterrey, president of that political party.

With this, the FSLN will be the only party that will go to the November electoral contest, together with the collaborationist parties Alianza por la República (Apre), Alianza Liberal Nicaragüense (ALN), Partido Liberal Independiente (PLI), PLC and Camino Cristiano, which do not face any type of obstacle in their attempt to “compete” in the November elections. 

Last May, the CSE had also cancelled the legal status of the Democratic Restoration Party (PRD), which was denounced by a group of evangelical pastors related to Orteguismo, who alleged that the party had violated its own statutes by signing a de facto alliance with the National Coalition, which would compete together with them in the 14th ballot box.

This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by our staff

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