Nicaragua says its opposition has lost credibility after attacks by government

Former Nicaraguan opposition figures said their movement’s credibility has suffered following a series of attacks and threatening communications from the government over the past year. “We have confronted violence for more than 15 years,”…

Nicaragua says its opposition has lost credibility after attacks by government

Former Nicaraguan opposition figures said their movement’s credibility has suffered following a series of attacks and threatening communications from the government over the past year.

“We have confronted violence for more than 15 years,” Juan Guán later told journalists in Managua. “But the recent messages from the government were so violent and threatening, and there is so much self-censorship from the former opposition that we feel we have lost credibility.”

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A delegation of former politicians from the opposition Liberal Constitutionalist party arrived in Managua on Monday afternoon to explore ways to bring an end to the nearly two-decade-long campaign by Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) government.

Guán left office as president of the Liberal party in 2015, but last August published a book in which he said the Sandinistas were determined to wipe out former opposition parties, “if necessary”.

Lawmakers within the Liberal party – many of whom crossed over to become Sandinista legislators after Ortega was re-elected president with 86% of the vote last year – have previously complained that they had not been given their support and key ministerial posts by their former party.

“With the deteriorating situation we have witnessed since late 2017, we are convinced it is urgent to acknowledge this lack of commitment and that those who have deserted the party and denied the entire project … must be called back to serve with the goals of both the Liberal party and the FSLN,” Guán said.

The Liberals first aligned with the FSLN in 1982. Three decades later, the Liberal party suffered a near-fatal loss in an election last year in which Ortega’s FSLN gained control of Congress for the first time.

Despite the FSLN gaining new strength, opinion polls are split on whether Ortega’s long-time ally and revolutionary commander will run for re-election in 2021, a year after what some opposition parties have dubbed a rigged second-round election.

Voter expectations are such that a new FSLN party leader cannot be appointed to run for the presidency this year, said Tomas Borge, a senior leader in the Liberal party.

The FSLN has not yet formally launched its presidential campaign, though that will likely happen in May.

The party’s leftist ideology is in sharp contrast to centrist Liberal party, known as Revolucionarios by some and Reformables by others. The two parties have traditionally held close relations, particularly on issues such as health and education.

The FSLN held its last congress in 2016 and was described as being in need of restructuring. While the party kept an anti-imperialist rhetoric, there were reports that Ortega wished to reach out to the wider Nicaraguan population, which includes many of the country’s urban poor, something the coalition has been unable to achieve.

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