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Nicaraguan groups polarized by Ortega bid

March 31, 2011

MANAGUA – Two groups – one opposing Daniel Ortega’s reelection   campaign and the other supporting it – will march in the capital this Saturday    in near-simultaneous shows of protest and support for the controversial        leader.

The Citizens Union for Democracy (UCD) organized the opposition march, and the Sandinista Youth will head up the march in support of Ortega.

According to reports in the local press, opposition leaders Eduardo Montealegre and Enrique Quiñónez, and Sandinista dissident Víctor Hugo Tinoco accused the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) of organizing the countermarch only after learning of the opposition march.

Tinoco pointed out that the opposition chose a specific date, and the Sandinistas, instead of choosing to pick the day after or the day before picked  the same day “to promote terror and awe.”

Bayardo Arce, the president’s adviser, denied the charge and said the Sandinista Youth will demonstrate with “peace, love and dignity.” He added that the organization has its own dynamics and statutes and does not need permission from the FSLN to decide when it can and cannot to march.

Arce expressed concern about the marches, and said it’s important for the two groups to not encounter each other during the protests.

What’s important is that they figure out how to do both activities during different hours and through different routes [in Managua],” Arce told a local television station. “And the two parties are smart enough to avoid confrontation.”

Arce said the National Police will help monitor the situation.

Ortega has applied to run for his second reelection during Nov. 6 elections, but the opposition considers the bid illegal, illegitimate and forbidden by the country’s constitution. However, the Supreme Court, which is controlled by the Sandinistas, declared that constitutional rule “inapplicable.”

Managua Archbishop Leopoldo Brenes warned that the possible reelection of Ortega could set “a dangerous precedent regarding the violation of our constitution.”

Brenes, who also leads the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, said in an interview published Monday in El Nuevo Diario, that the clamor for Ortega’s reelection “is a reflection of institutional weakness prevailing in the country.” He said that the National Assembly and the Supreme Court made a game of the law.

Asked if the judges settled the law to their convenience, the religious leader answered, “Of course.”

“I always thought that the laws had only one interpretation and that they were in the hands of those who had ample knowledge of them, but I was wrong,” Brenes said. “It was deplorable to discover the constitution was not respected.”

“When we see that one person runs the country and has all the power, in his hands can fall the temptation of totalitarianism,” he added.

The archbishop believes there are great thinkers within the FSLN, but they are not given a chance to have their voice heard.

He also dismissed those running against Ortega as “pseudo-opposition loyal only to their interests and to maintaining the positions they hold.”

Ortega faces four opposition candidates, including former President Arnoldo Alemán (1997-2002) of the Liberal Constitutionalist Party, Fabio Gadea of the Independent Liberal Party, former Contra leader Enrique Quiñónez of the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance and former Minister of Education Miguel Ángel García of the Alliance for the Republic.

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