Almagro: “Nicaragua Headed for Worst Possible Election”

Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the OAS. Photo: EFE.

The OAS Secretary General believes that the recent electoral reform “is nothing more than a cosmetic change to a deficient legal body.”

HAVANA TIMES – The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, said Wednesday that Nicaragua is heading for “the worst possible election” due to the lack of guarantees to hold a free, fair, and transparent process.

Almagro made these statements during a meeting of the Permanent Council of the organization to address the situation in Nicaragua.

The Uruguayan diplomat reiterated his concern about the appointment of ten new magistrates to the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), most of them Sandinistas, who will be in charge of supervising the elections of November 7, in which President Daniel Ortega seeks his third consecutive reelection.

Almagro also expressed his rejection of the electoral reforms subscribed by the National Assembly, with a pro-government majority. He said the reforms make possible the inhibition of candidates opposed to Ortega and cancels any electoral observation, giving way to the limited figure of “accompaniment.”

Electoral reform

“Behind these initiatives, said Almagro, there is a clear attempt to consolidate total control of the electoral process by suppressing, limiting and restricting dissenting voices.”

“Unfortunately, the initiative is nothing more than a cosmetic change to a deficient legal body,” he added.

For this reason, he said the reforms “further distance the possibility of having a transparent, participatory and equitable process.”

Almagro also recalled that since February 2017 he has expressed his willingness to collaborate with the Government of Nicaragua to carry out electoral reforms that make the political system freer and more democratic. He denounced the non-compliance by the Ortega Executive of agreements reached in the past.

The ambassador’s opposition

At the beginning of the session, the Nicaraguan ambassador to the OAS, Luis Alvarado, expressed his opposition to having the electoral process of his country discussed in an international forum, considering it a strictly internal affair.

“No state or group of states has the right to intervene directly or indirectly, for any reason, in the internal affairs of any other,” he denounced.

Nicaragua’s elections in November will be the first held by the country after the wave of demonstrations in 2018. The protests began over social security reforms. The subsequent government repression to squash the opposition to its policies caused hundreds of deaths, prisoners and disappearances, in addition to an estimated 100,000 Nicaraguans forced into exile.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.