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NICARAGUA
Election results contested
11/14/2008
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Calls of fraud cloud sweeping Sandinista victory in mayoral elections.

Violent clashes and allegations of fraud in the wake of an overwhelming victory by the ruling Sandinista party in the Nov. 9 mayoral elections have prompted the country´s electoral authority court to call a recount of the vote. Although the victory was later confirmed by a high electoral council, the only ballot review was held in the capital, Managua.

The Sandinista National Liberation Front, or FSLN, won 102 of the 146 municipal races, according to official results, including the capital, Managua.

The ruling party won mayoral races in the main departments, such as Esteli, Matagalpa, Rivas, Chinandega and Leon.

But the opposition Liberal Constitutionalist Party, or PLC, and other parties said the results were fraudulent, and other accusations of irregularities surfaced.

According to the Supreme Electoral Council´s ballot review, Nicaragua´s high electoral court, three-time world boxing champion Alexis Argüello won 51 percent of the vote in the Managua mayoral race, topping Eduardo Montealegre of the PLC with 46 percent.

President Daniel Ortega said that he opposed the presence of electoral observers from the Organization of American States and the European Union, calling them “subordinate” to the United States.

Montealegre had complained that 20,000 votes in his favor had been voided. He also slammed Ortega´s government for failing to accept national and international observers, including the Nicaraguan Civic Ethical and Transparency Group, a member of the Transparency International. Some 30,000 volunteer observers worked anyway.

Edmundo Jarquín, a leader of the center-left Sandinista Renovation Movement agreed with the allegations of fraud.

“This process was plagued with irregularities … by the [Supreme Electoral Council], which clearly acted in favor of President Ortega´s party,” he said.

The Catholic Church also made a call to review the election results in the entire country, not just in Managua.

“We believe that one of the principal ways to overcome the population´s widespread distrust of these elections is the revision and comparison of the ballots´ copies that are at the political parties´ hands … as they were marked” when the polls closed, and the voting acts from each station are signed by electoral officials.

Members of the conference urged members of the electoral council “to act with honesty, transparency and impartiality” during the review. —Latinamerica Press.


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