Human rights groups accused President Daniel Ortega of suppressing potential opponents before voting in November.
Nicaragua’s main opposition coalition has appointed a former right-wing fighter and a beauty queen as its candidates to replace President Daniel Ortega in the November general election.
The Civil Liberties Union (CXL) announced on Wednesday A wave of arrests of opposition figuresIn the past two months, more than two dozen people have been arrested, including seven presidential candidates.
Oscar Sobarvaro, 68, said that he did not expect to be nominated, but insisted that he would “take the baton of the detainees,” which he said was “not easy nor risky”.
His running partner is 27-year-old Berenice Quezada. She is Miss Nicaragua in 2017 and has no known history of political activism.
Human rights organizations and international observers accused Ortega of presiding over the suppression of potential opponents before voting in November, during which the 75-year-old will seek a fourth consecutive term.
Among those arrested by the Ortega government, five CXL leaders are expected to compete for the presidential candidacy, and Student protest leaders and other opposition figures In Central American countries.
The U.S. has imposed sanctions and Visa restrictions Officials associated with the Ortega government, and the Organization of American States (OAS) has urged him to release detainees and ensure that free and fair elections can be held.
The long-term president stated that his government is prosecuting the criminals who planned the coup against him to justify the arrest. Most were arrested under a controversial law approved by Parliament in December, which has been widely criticized as a means to deter challengers and suppress opponents.
In a public event on Sunday, Ortega slammed the country’s opposition figures, calling them part of the “Yankee Policy” and that the opposition “has no shame.”
“They don’t even deserve to be called Nicaraguans…The Empire uses them, and when they win, they kick them out,” said Ortega, who repeatedly referred to the United States as the “Empire” in his speech.
“The empire does not want to hold elections in Nicaragua. The empire wants to boycott elections. It wants to replant terrorism in our country,” he said.
But civil society and human rights organizations accused the 75-year-old man who ruled Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990, regained power in 2007, and won two consecutive re-election campaigns since then—intensified authoritarianism.
In the November election, CXL will become the main opponent of Ortega and his vice president and wife, 70-year-old Rosario Murrillo, who represent the Sandinista National Liberation Front ( FSLN).
Sobalvarro is a former member of Contras, a right-wing rebel organization backed by the United States that fought a three-year armed struggle with the Sandinista government led by Ortega in the 1980s.
After announcing the CXL presidential ticket at a hotel in the capital Managua, hundreds of supporters chanted “Yes, you can”, “Freedom” and “Freedom for political prisoners” while dozens of riot police surrounded the building.