Nicaragua re-elects Ortega amid Western pressure

Nicaraguan opposition candidate Daniel Ortega was re-elected president in Sunday’s vote after a vote marred by accusations of voter fraud and raising questions about whether the 5-year-old Central American nation can survive without a leader with strong ties to Venezuela’s socialist government.

Ortega, a former Cold War adversary, was polling 51 percent of the vote against 49 percent for opposition challenger Manuel Rosales, according to exit poll data from New York-based Nuevo Herald.

The election commission said Sunday that the election results show Ortega was re-elected for a third consecutive term.

Ortega was elected in 2006, and re-elected by a landslide in 2011 and 2016.

Sunday’s election drew international condemnation due to his alliance with Cuba’s Castros, long known for their anti-American stance, and more recently for their backing of the ruling regime in Venezuela.

Just nine of 14 countries that sent observers were allowed to observe the elections, which were widely criticized as “failures” by the Organization of American States (OAS), the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and other regional organizations.

Results were also delayed as businesses on the island closed down in protest of the elections, which also resulted in numerous reports of harassment and violence toward candidates from the opposition, as well as media workers.

Nicaragua´s internal Electoral Tribunal, known as the Supreme Electoral Council, has refused to issue an official election result and was reported to be holding electoral fraud investigations on Monday.

Rosales, who was Ortega’s first vice president in 2006, had said in his closing campaign message that Ortega had become “insane” and warned that Nicaragua would become the Caracas of Central America “within a matter of days.”

Nicaragua´s National Convenience Store Workers Union said in a statement Sunday that “it’s a huge waste of people’s money and our financial resources for politicians to play with it.”

“A huge wealth was created by the opposition while working people suffered during Daniel Ortega’s first term, and now, thanks to his authoritarian behavior, they are suffering again,” the union said in a statement.

Opposition leader Miguel Díaz Canela, who called his supporters to peaceful street protests last week, spoke Sunday night to say, “Nicaragua is great because of Daniel Ortega, but he needs to leave the country.”

Ortega and Rosales secured support from their partners in the ruling Sandinista Front party and organized voting in people’s homes. Other candidates, such as Foreign Minister Samuel Santos and journalist Eduardo Montealegre, came in third place and sixth respectively.

Fox News’ Ian McCaleb contributed to this report.

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