Nicaragua: Dictatorship Militarizes Electoral “Farce” on the Caribbean Coast

Ethics and Transparency notes that eight out ten citizens did not vote for the winning political parties, a “very low dose of legitimacy.”

The March 3rd regional elections on the Caribbean Coast repeated the same irregularities that have characterized elections during the Ortega era, although on this occasion the regime added one more peculiarity: it militarized all voting centers, according to the civic group “Etica y Transparencia” (ET-Ethics and Transparency), the only independent body that followed up on the vote.

Ortega’s elections have been characterized by an unreliable voter registry, abuse of state assets to move voters and use of deficient ink, which facilitates multiple voting by the same individual.

Thanks to a reform of the Electoral Law, citizens were allowed to vote, despite not appearing in the active voter registration rolls, if they were on the list of people with identity cards by just presenting them.

Alberto Sequeira, director of ET, commented that there was an abnormal presence of the military and police. “The voting centers were full of policemen; there were armed people around the centers, which generated fear” among the few citizens who came to vote.

Poor participation

The discredited Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) informed until the night before the elections that 348,491 citizens above 16 years old were eligible to vote in the regional elections, in which 13 parties participated.

Roberto Courtney, Executive Director of ET, explained that the “inflated” official data indicated that the participation in these elections was around 38%, so a party that won with 50%, actually has more or less 17% of the vote of the voters’ registry: “it means that eight out of ten people in the Caribbean did not vote for it. That is a very low dose of legitimacy.”

He added that these elections “are not more or less legitimate than the previous ones,” at the same time he acknowledged that “legitimacy has not been taken seriously and cannot be taken seriously unless it is by starting with quality elections, and with legitimizing processes, such as the dialogue process to establish the conditions for a solution to the crisis in the country.”

Sequeira noted that the Government could not avoid the low turnout, despite the fact that it hired buses and private cars, and used State resources to move citizens so they could vote.

“Electoral Farce”

The Broad Front for Democracy (FAD) issued a statement in which it stated that the “electoral farce” on the Caribbean Coast “confirmed the distrust on the already collapsed Electoral Branch,” and “evidences the deep rejection expressed by the great abstention.”

“We maintain a sense of urgency to achieve free and early elections to get rid of the dictatorship peacefully,” it emphasized. “We support the attempt to achieve it through the negotiations carried out by the Civic Alliance,” said FAD.

Pro-government media project, based on two CSE reports, that the ruling FSLN party of Daniel Ortega will get 30 of the 45 seats in the North Caribbean, followed by the Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC) with 13 and the Yatama indigenous party with 12. [Ortega has a long-standing power enabling pact with the PLC led by Arnoldo Aleman since the late 1990s].

In the South Caribbean, the government says the FSLN will win 34 seats, the PLC nine and Yatama two.

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