With 20 votes in favor, 2 against and 12 abstentions, the OAS demands guarantees for “free and fair elections”
By Yader Luna (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – The General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) approved a new resolution today on Nicaragua. Titled: “Restoring democratic institutions and respect for human rights in Nicaragua through free and fair elections,” it received 20 votes in favor, two against and 12 abstentions.
The text establishes May 2021 as the deadline for the Government of Daniel Ortega to implement the electoral reforms necessary to guarantee free, fair and transparent elections in November of that year.
Nicaraguan ambassador Luis Alvarado classified the OAS resolution as an “unfriendly action.”
Voting in favor were: Ecuador, El Salvador, United States, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, Saint Lucia, Uruguay, Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Venezuela (represented by an opposition delegate).
Only Nicaragua and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines voted against. Abstaining were: Dominica, Grenada, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Antigua and Barbuda, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina, Barbados, Belize, and Saint Kitts and Nevis.
On the agenda despite the Ortega government’s opposition
Nicaraguan Foreign Minister, Denis Moncada, “firmly and categorically” rejected the inclusion of the proposed resolution on the General Assembly’s agenda, arguing that it violates the sovereignty of the countries and disrespects internal decisions. Likewise, Moncada warned that the Ortega government will not accept any resolution that involves “aggression against its sovereignty and “interference.”
“No State or group of States has the right to intervene directly or indirectly for any reason in the internal or external affairs of another State,” insisted the foreign minister.
Moncada’s intervention followed that of Canadian Foreign Minister, François-Philippe Champagne, who asked the Ortega government to stop the human rights violations in the country.
“Canada urges the Government of Nicaragua to stop all human rights violations, defend freedom of the press, and work with the OAS for the elections,” said the Canadian ambassador to the OAS.
However, despite Nicaragua’s objection, only supported by Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Antigua and Barbuda, and Mexico, the resolution was submitted for debate.
To pass any resolution, the votes of 18 of the 34 active members of the OAS are needed.
The resolution states…
The resolution on Nicaragua reiterates the concern of the international community about the deterioration of democratic institutions and urges the Nicaraguan Government “to fully respect the constitutional order, human rights and fundamental freedoms.”
The document places special emphasis on the need to modernize the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), controlled by the ruling party. It urges the Nicaraguan government to “accept the broad and effective deployment of electoral observation missions that include independent international observers accredited in the electoral process.”
Furthermore, the resolution emphasizes the need for a “pluralistic political process that leads to the effective exercise of civil and political rights, including the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression.”
It also raises the need for an open registry of new political parties; the independent technical review and update of the voter registration rolls and an independent audit of the voter lists; transparent and efficient management of the voter registration and distribution of identity cards and voting centers. In addition to a transparent recount and the publication of results in real time.
Pompeo: Ortega undermines democracy
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at the second plenary session and asked the OAS to “pass a resolution condemning Ortega’s failure to meet democratic standards.”
“President (Daniel) Ortega also undermines democracy in his country. He violates the basic rights of the Nicaraguan people to express themselves, to assemble in peace and even allows violent attacks on churches,” said Pompeo, who led the US delegation to the General Assembly.
“The Government of the United States will continue to support the struggle of the Nicaraguan people to achieve democracy, respect for human rights, freedom of expression and religious freedom,” Deputy Under Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Jon Piechowski told Confidencial.
The senior US official assured they have not stopped asking for the release of Ortega’s political prisoners. He described their continued imprisonment as “unacceptable.”
Support to the Nicaraguan people
During his speech, the Foreign Minister of Costa Rica, Rodolfo Solano, indicated that his country will continue to condemn the acts that have allowed the “breakdown of democratic institutions and serious human rights violations in Nicaragua.”
Solano demanded the restoration of all public freedoms and called for holding “free and fair elections” in Nicaragua.
The Chilean ambassador to the OAS, Teodoro Rivera, said his country would support any resolution that arises in the context of the General Assembly to ensure that a democratic order is restored in Nicaragua.
“Since 2018, Chile has condemned human rights violations, and in general the deterioration of democratic institutions. Chile will support the resolution on Nicaragua that urges the Government to carry out the electoral reform in view of the 2021 elections, allowing the deployment of electoral observation,” said Rivera.
Electoral reform agreement expired
A memorandum of understanding for an electoral agreement, signed three years ago by the Nicaraguan government and the OAS, lost its validity on February 28 of this year.
The agreement proposed working to improve electoral institutions, based on regional standards, in areas such as: universal and equitable voting; registration or civil registry; the electoral registry; access to the voting centers; the casting of the vote; the integrity of voter preferences; accurate tabulation of voter preferences; the right to run for public office; equality in security; equal opportunities such as financing for political parties; the right to freedom of the press and information; freedom of association, assembly, expression and movement; the frequency of regular elections for elective offices; and the irreversibility of the electoral results.
The document – signed between the Secretary General of the OAS, Luis Almagro, and Ortega, valid for three years, extendable – established agreements to cooperate in the political-electoral and institutional areas. However, if there was any progress it was never made public.