Former Sandinista party leader Daniel Ortega won a third consecutive term in Nicaragua’s presidency in elections Wednesday that were roundly condemned by international observers as unfair and fraudulent.
The Caribbean-based observer mission of the Union of South American Nations said in a statement Wednesday that the election “could not be considered an authentic expression of popular will” and described it as a “parody” of democracy.
Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council announced Ortega’s victory after 96 percent of the vote was counted from Tuesday’s election. Observers had predicted Ortega and other Sandinista representatives would likely win the election despite a wave of conservative support.
Dozens of international observers and human rights advocates in Nicaragua boycotted the election, saying the electoral council had formed illegal commissions and employed new technology to rig the vote, in violation of Nicaragua’s constitution.
“Today has been a day of shame,” said Alejandro Melgoza, an official of the Nicaraguan Foundation for Freedom, said Tuesday. “This is not a democracy.”
The Union of South American Nations said in a statement Wednesday that Nicaragua’s presidential election “could not be considered an authentic expression of popular will.”
Ortega’s Sandinista party dominates Nicaragua’s legislature and the electoral council.
Vice President Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s wife and campaign manager, admitted during the campaign that more than half of the Sandinista National Liberation Front’s candidates ran unopposed or tied with their rivals.
Murillo said that while her candidates won in 80 percent of the districts where they ran, the elections were “wonderful” because “Nicaragua is for all Nicaraguans, not just for the Sandinistas.”
Critics say Ortega has used the Sandinista party to silence critics and use Sandinista government money to finance his political machine.
Argentina and Venezuela, a staunch ally of Ortega’s, said they had warned Nicaragua about the dangers of Tuesday’s vote.
Nancy Pusateri, spokeswoman for the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry, said her government expressed its serious concern about the electoral process in Nicaragua in a phone call to Venezuela’s foreign minister and called on the Central American country to take all possible measures to ensure the transparency of the vote.
Pusateri also said Argentina asked the Nicaraguan ambassador to Argentina to meet with the Foreign Ministry’s deputy chief of mission.
Nicaragua’s comptroller said Wednesday it had found dozens of violations by Ortega’s campaign in campaign advertisements.
The head of the comptroller’s office, Marcela Inglesa, said she found violations in 65 percent of the ads produced by the campaign. The disclosures included multiple donors, false names, inaccurate financials and falsified documents.