Monday, June 24, 2024
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Nicaragua’s Ortega set to cruise to re-election

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MANAGUA: President Daniel Ortega is primed to win re-election on Sunday and become Nicaragua’s first leader to serve consecutive terms since his Sandinista rebel army overthrew a right-wing dictatorship in 1979.

Ortega has won support over the last five years largely because he has overseen a period of economic progress, backed by financial aid from his socialist ally in Venezuela, President Hugo Chavez.

A former Marxist guerrilla commander and Cold War adversary of the United States, Ortega has solidified his hold on the Central American country with programs to improve health and education, microcredits and gifts of livestock.

He has a strong poll lead over a conservative opposition whose two main candidates failed to unite against him.

Ortega was allowed to run again thanks to a 2009 ruling by the Supreme Court, which is controlled by his Sandinista party. He has been credited with reducing inequality with social spending and allowing the private sector to operate freely, but also criticized for undermining democratic institutions.

Some critics fear Ortega aims to stay in power indefinitely like Chavez, whose petrodollars boost the Nicaraguan economy.

Ortega led Sandinista rebels in ousting the Somoza family dictatorship in the 1979 revolution and was the top figure in a government that withstood a U.S.-backed ”Contra” rebellion throughout the 1980s.

He was elected president in 1984 but was voted out in 1990. He then spent 16 years as the main opposition leader before regaining power in a 2006 election.

Ortega has moderated his socialist rhetoric in recent years. (UNI)

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