Recount gives victory Argüello in Nicaragua mayoral elections

November 14, 2008

After an overnight vote recount in Managua, Roberto Rivas, president of the Sandinista-controlled Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), announced last night that Sandinista candidate Alexis Argüello is candidate-elect of Managua, after the provisional vote count gave him a 51 to 46 percent win over Liberal Party challenger Eduardo Montealegre.

Montealegre, church leaders and business chambers had requested an internationally audited, nationwide vote recount of the hotly contested elections, following numerous allegations of voter fraud. The CSE consented Wednesday afternoon to a partial recount only in Managua – a condition rejected by Montealegre, who insisted the recount be nationwide and audited by credible electoral observers.

The CSE´s recount was then conducted overnight Wednesday and most of yesterday, but under the same conditions of the original vote count, and without any observers from Montealegre´s Liberal Constitutional Party (PLC), which boycotted the recount.

In a press conference yesterday evening, Rivas, sounding more like a partisan Sandinista than an impartial electoral official, told Nicaraguans “don´t allow yourselves to be fooled” by claims that Montealegre had won – a comment repeated over the week on Sandinista media outlets.

Rivas also noted that Montealgre had made similar allegations of election theft in 2006, when he lost his presidential bid to Daniel Ortega.

The rest of the preliminary results from the municipal elections are scheduled to be printed today in an official daily newspaper, at which point any candidates who disagree with the results will be allowed to file a formal legal challenge.

Montealegre, meanwhile, has published the results of his own parallel vote count, which he claims shows he won, on the Web site www.voto2008.org.

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