Unseated Nicaraguan lawmakers denounce “Coup”

“The mass ouster of opposition lawmakers is an unprecedented move in Nicaraguan history, and with it (President) Daniel Ortega ... is staging a coup on the legislature,

“The mass ouster of opposition lawmakers is an unprecedented move in Nicaraguan history, and with it (President) Daniel Ortega ... is staging a coup on the legislature,” the unseated lawmakers said Friday in a statement read by the now-former leader of the opposition bloc in the unicameral National Assembly, Wilber Lopez.

A group of 28 opposition lawmakers who were unseated by Nicaragua’s electoral authority said they had been the victims of a “coup.”The 28 lawmakers, including 16 elected legislators and their alternates, said the decision handed down by the Supreme Electoral Council and backed on Friday by the National Assembly’s executive committee destroys “Nicaragua’s already debilitated representative democracy by closing the last institutional space for the opposition.”

They said the move was “particularly grave” considering that it comes shortly before Ortega will seek a third consecutive term in office in November’s general elections and has the clear purpose of intimidating citizens opposed to his Sandinista government.

The 28 lawmakers had belonged to the Independent Liberal Party, or PLI, whose leader, Eduardo Montealegre, was removed in June by the Supreme Court and replaced with Pedro Reyes, who has little political experience and is seen by the opposition as a close ally of Ortega’s.

Reyes had asked the Supreme Electoral Council to unseat the lawmakers after they refused to accept his leadership. Those legislators then unsuccessfully tried to stay in office by declaring themselves independent.

Montealegre was ousted when the Supreme Court sided with Reyes and leaders of other PLI factions in a lawsuit they had filed for control of the party.

Montealegre, who finished second to Ortega in the 2006 presidential balloting, had built a coalition to challenge the president in this year’s general election but announced after the high-court ruling that it would withdraw from the electoral process.

EFE

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