Nicaragua’s Ortega retains presidency following pre-election crackdown

Managua, Nov 8 (EFE).- Nicaragua’s president Daniel Ortega is poised for a fourth consecutive five-year term in office following a pre-election crackdown on opposition candidates.

The Central American nation’s Supreme Electoral Commission (CSE) on Monday said in an early report that Ortega was on track for 75% of the national vote with half the ballots counted.

His nearest rival in the presidential race received just 14.4% of the vote, the report said.

Some 4.4 million eligible voters were called on to elect the president and vice-president as well as members of the national parliament and the Central American parliament.

According to the CSE, voter turnout hit 65.34% but the independent observer Urnas Abiertas said 81.5% of eligible voters abstained.

In power since 2007, Ortega has paved the way for his fifth overall term in office amid a deepening political crisis in Nicaragua. His wife, Rosario Murillo, was also re-elected as vice-president, according to early results.

Seven opposition candidates were jailed for “treason” and others fled the country ahead of Sunday’s election, drawing widespread condemnation from human rights groups in Nicaragua and the wider international community.

In addition, three opposition political parties were ruled out of the process and electoral observers were held at bay.

The United States, the European Union and the Organization of American States have rejected the legitimacy of the elections.

Costa Rica said it would not recognize the elections in Nicaragua, its northern neighbor, due to the “absence of conditions and guarantees” for a democratic process.

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