MANAGUA, Nicaragua – Evoking the image of former U.S. President Ronald Reagan, Managua mayoral hopeful Eduardo Montealegre, candidate for the Liberal Constitutional Party, spoke before a crowd of some 18,000 supporters to officially launch his campaign Sept. 28 by calling on all voters to unite in their opposition against President Daniel Ortega.
“President Ortega, tear down these billboards,” Montealegre said, referring to the monstrous pink Sandinista billboards covering the capital city and remembering that Ortega’s former nemesis Reagan called on former Soviet leader Michael Gorbachev to tear down the Berlin Wall 29 years ago.
Montealegre, a former banker, finance minister and presidential runner-up to Ortega in 2006, is running against Sandinista mayoral candidate and former three-time boxing champ Alexis Argüello, whom he claims is unfit for the job.
“The mayor’s office is not a boxing ring; we need a qualified person with experience to administer resources,” Montealegre told the crowd gathered in Managua’s Plaza de la Fe.
Montealegre urged all anti-Ortega sectors of society, which together represent a clear majority, to unite with him against the Sandinista leader on election day, Nov. 9.
The left-wing Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), which had its party status canceled two months ago by the Ortegacontrolled Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), this week echoed Montealegre’s call for everyone to vote against Ortega to prevent the installation of a “dictatorship.” Although members of the MRS had once called for a “null vote” in protest of an election that they consider illegitimate, party leaders announced this week that the MRS is officially supporting any candidate running against Ortega and said that a null vote and voter abstention will only help Ortega’s cause.
Though the MRS has not endorsed Montealegre, the Liberal candidate is already trying to appeal to the disenfranchised MRS and Conservative Party voters with signs saying “Everyone Against Ortega” written in red, orange and green – a gesture of unity using the colors of the Liberals, the MRS and the Conservatives.
The MRS, meanwhile, has announced it is going to take its case regarding its canceled party status before theInter-American Court
on Human Rights since Nicaragua’s Supreme Court has failed to rule on the matter.
The U.S. Department of State, which has called on the Nicaraguan government to allow international observers for the elections – a request that so far has been denied – acknowledged the official beginning of the campaign and urged the government to “ensure that all Nicaraguans are provided the opportunity to participate in free, fair and transparent elections.”
The U.S. State Department also renewed its call for independent observers.