Last Friday, the National Assembly enforced a decision issued by the Supreme Electoral Council on July 25, which ordered the dismissal of 16 principal and 12 alternate opposition congressmen belonging to the main opposition party. The dismissal was grounded on the legislators having “switched political allegiances while in office.” The measure was preceded by the congressmen’s refusal to comply with a Supreme Court ruling that stripped the opposition party of its legal representation.
“Taking advantage of the fact that the Sandinistas now control all organs of the state, in less than two months, Ortega has managed to pave the way for yet another reelection and installed a single-party regime,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. “Ortega’s bold move deepens the erosion of democracy in Nicaragua, and brings the country one step closer to full-fledged dictatorship,” added Halvorssen.
The June 8 ruling issued by the Supreme Court replaced Eduardo Montealegre, who served for five years as the legal representative of the Independent Liberal Party, with Pedro Reyes, another opposition leader who had been challenging Montealegre’s position for years in Nicaragua’s Sandinista courts. It was Reyes who — acting capriciously and in the interest of the ruling party — filed a request with the Supreme Electoral Council for the dismissal of the congressmen, which was granted on July 25. Both rulings have disbanded the democratic opposition that held a minority vote in the legislative over the last 4 years.
It remains to be seen whether the Independent Liberal Party, one of the few political parties allowed to present candidates according to the strict Sandinista-crafted electoral laws, will be the platform of any authentic opposition candidates for the upcoming general election in November.
Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.