Ortega’s Electoral Council Says He Won with 75.92%

Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo after the elections, broadcasting their remarks on national TV. Photo: government website

The Electoral Council, under FSLN control, confirmed the reelection of Ortega and Murillo following a voting process where they ran essentially unopposed.

By Confidencial

HAVANA TIMES – The near final tally of Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council – a body controlled by the Ortega regime – has confirmed Daniel Ortega’s reelection to the Nicaraguan presidency. With 97.74% of the polling places reporting, the Electoral Council announced that Ortega had received 75.92% of the votes.

The electoral process has been questioned for its lack of competition, the imprisonment of opposition candidates and leaders, and the generalized repression of civil society and the independent media.

With seven candidates who formerly aspired to running against Ortega being held incommunicado in prison, accused of “treason”, it was predictable that Ortega would be declared the winner. This will mark Ortega’s fourth consecutive electoral “victory”. He’s been in power continuously since 2007, and also served as president from 1985-1990.

Brenda Rocha, Electoral Council president, read the latest report on Monday afternoon. She announced the other parties’ total percentages as: Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC) -14.15%; Camino Cristiano – 3.30%; Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN) – 3.15%; Alliance for the Republic (APRE) – 1.78%; and the Independent Liberal Party (PLI) – 1.70%.  The smaller parties were seen as agreeing to serve as “shadow opponents” for the government, while their candidates and platforms remained essentially unknown.

The government-controlled Electoral Council claims that 65.34% of the electorate participated. This preliminary report contradicts the observations of citizens and the independent media, which coincided in noting a scarce influx of citizens to the polling places The Urnas Abiertas [Open Ballot Boxes] Citizens’ Observatory estimated abstention at 81.5%.

After he voted, Ortega spoke on the national broadcasting networks, calling Sunday’s voting “a signal of the majority’s commitment to peace.”

The event was transmitted from the voting center that had been established in his family El Carmen home and office complex. Ortega stated that the country has held 49 elections since 1984, when he ran for president the first time. He lashed out at the opposition that demanded a change of government in 2018, amid massive protests against his rule. He termed these protests “acts of terrorism”; in fact, his regime squashed those demonstrations with massacres and repression.

International condemnation

The Costa Rican government issued this statement several hours after the polling places closed in Nicaragua. “In the absence of conditions and guarantees required in a democracy to credit the elections as transparent, credible, independent, free, fair, and inclusive, Costa Rica doesn’t recognize the Nicaraguan electoral process realized on November 7, 2021.”

The electoral period that culminated in Daniel Ortega being reelected for a fourth consecutive term has been marked by a dire lack of public freedoms. Ortega ran together with his wife, vice president and government spokesperson Rosario Murillo.

“Costa Rica reiterates that the actions undertaken by the Nicaraguan government against prominent political and social figures, including opposition leaders, youth and media workers in that country, contradict the free democratic exercise, the guarantee of political pluralism, and free expression,” indicated the statement released by Costa Rica’s Foreign Ministry.

Earlier on Sunday, US president Joe Biden termed the voting “a pantomime that was neither free nor fair.” At the same time, he announced that his government will utilize all the economic and diplomatic tools at its disposal, in coordination with other members of the international community, to hold the government of Daniel Ortega accountable for its abuses.

In a declaration regarding “the simulated elections” of the Central American country, Biden denounced Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo as autocrats that govern the country in a style no different than that used by the Somoza family. The current Nicaraguan ruler helped defeat the latter forty-two years ago, when he was part of the revolutionary guerrilla.

Biden’s declaration occurs at a moment when criticism is mounting in the international community of a process considered a sham by sectors critical to Ortega. It also coincides with the passing of the Renacer Act on Biden’s desk, where it awaits his signature according to sources from the US Congress. The bill tightens the sanctions imposed against the Nicaraguan dictatorship.

The legislation gives Congress new tools to sanction Ortega and his allies for their refusal to allow free elections. It also imposes supervision of the international loans the country receives from multilateral organizations, and opens the possibility of reviewing Nicaragua’s participation in the free trade agreement between the US, Central America and the Dominican Republic.

Although Biden didn’t refer specifically to the Renacer Act – passed by Congress on November 3rd – he was clear about his position on the abuses committed by Ortega.

“The arbitrary imprisonment of nearly 40 opposition figures since May, including seven potential presidential candidates, and the blocking of political parties from participation, rigged the outcome well before election day.  They shuttered independent media, locked up journalists and members of the private sector, and bullied civil society organizations into closing their doors,” Biden lamented.

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times.