Nicaragua’s ‘dry law’ goes unobserved ahead of election

Managua, Nov 7 (EFE).- A ‘dry law’ that bans bars, restaurants and grocery stores from selling alcohol the day before elections in Nicaragua was not enforced on Saturday after police said establishments could “operate normally.”

The temporary ban on alcohol sales came into effect at 2 pm local time on Saturday as part of a series of measures designed to reduce security risks during voting on Sunday.

But following the police announcement, which initially caused confusion, bars, supermarkets, restaurants and stores announced they would make all products available to customers.

The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), an NGO, criticized the decision.

“We condemn this irresponsible action from the Ortega-Murillo regime, given that just a few hours before the questionable elections, it has tactically suspended the dry law by way of an ambiguous police statement,” the group said on Twitter.

Efe could confirm that bars continued to operate into the night although many were empty.

The police gave no further explanation for the decision.

Some 4.4 million Nicaraguans are eligible to cast their vote in Sunday’s presidential and parliamentary elections.

President Daniel Ortega is seeking a third consecutive term in office — his fourth overall — in a vote described by the opposition as “fraudulent” and the international community as illegitimate.

His wife Rosario Murillo is running for a second term as vice president.

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