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Two minority parties outlawed in Nicaragua

June 13, 2008

MANAGUA – Comandante Dora María Téllez has decided to continue with her hunger strike, today entering its 10th day, following a ruling Wednesday afternoon by the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) to cancel the legal party status of her Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS) and the Conservative Party (PC).

The CSE ruled that the two minority parties did not comply with all the legal requirements to participate in the upcoming municipal elections – a claim MRS and PC claim is a political lie authored by President Daniel Ortega to eliminate political competition.

Téllez, a historic Sandinista guerrilla leader and the former president of the MRS, declared her hunger strike more than a week before the CSE made its final decision, warning that Ortega was conspiring to establish a dictatorship. Her protest has inspired hundreds of mostly young Nicaraguans to take to the streets in support of democracy and in protest of the Ortega government.

On Wednesday night, hours after the council made its decision, a group of several dozen protesters overpowered a police line protecting the house of CSE President Roberto Rivas, whom they claim is a lackey for Ortega. Police and protesters clashed as demonstrators shouted at Rivas’ home and painted anti-government graffiti on the street.

Other groups targeted the official Sandinista media station, Multinoticias, by flipping one of its company cars over in the middle of the street.

Opposition lawmakers in the National Assembly, meanwhile, brought black flags to the assembly floor yesterday to mark the death of Nicaragua’s democracy.

More protests are planned for the coming days, as the climate heats up. Ortega, meanwhile, has been largely absent from the public eye for the past month, and has yet to comment on the unrest.

Former Sandinista directorate leader and MRS head legislator, Víctor Hugo Tinoco, told The Nica Times last night that Téllez’s protest has “removed the people’s fear” of Ortega. He said that the struggle that is mounting on the streets is similar to the early stages of the uprising against the Somoza dictatorship in the 1970s. Though Tinoco said the MRS will exhaust all its legal channels, he said the fight will be won “in the streets.”

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