Biden bans Nicaraguan authorities, including US couple Ortega

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The United States on Tuesday imposed an entry ban on Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, his vice-president wife and his government, after elections that were internationally rejected as illegitimate.

Ahead of the November 7 vote, Nicaraguan authorities arrested nearly 40 opposition figures, including seven presidential candidates, securing victory for longtime leader Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo.

“The repressive and abusive acts of the Ortega government and its supporters compel the United States to act,” President Joe Biden said in a proclamation.

“The anti-democratic and authoritarian actions of the Ortega government crippled the electoral process and deprived Nicaraguan citizens of the right to choose their leaders in free and fair elections.

On Monday, the United States announced separate financial sanctions against Nicaraguan officials, calling the recent elections a “sham.”

Britain and Canada also announced new sanctions against prominent Nicaraguans.

“The physical and psychological abuse of political prisoners at the hands of police and prison authorities is intolerable and cannot last,” said Biden, accusing Ortega of overseeing corrupt courts, police and security services.

A burning Marxist in his youth, Ortega ruled Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990, after leading a guerrilla army that overthrew US-backed dictator Anastasio Somoza.

Returning to power in 2007, he was re-elected four times, becoming increasingly dictatorial and overturning presidential term limits.

“No democratic legitimacy”

Nicaraguan congress on Tuesday asked Ortega, 76, to remove the Central American country from a regional cooperation body that rejected the election – in which Ortega garnered 75 percent of the vote.

The Nicaraguan opposition said the election was marked by massive abstention even as the government claimed a 65% turnout.

Last week, the Washington-based Organization of American States (OAS) said the election “was not free, fair or transparent, and lacked democratic legitimacy.”

Congress President Gustavo Porras said the legislature is asking Ortega to reject the OAS charter, which is the formal process for leaving the group.

During this legislative session, 83 of 87 lawmakers approved the motion.

Like all branches of government in Nicaragua, the congress is controlled by the left-wing Sandinista National Liberation Front of Ortega.

Congress accused the OAS of violating the “principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states”.

Nicaragua is now fully “an autocratic regime,” the European Union said last week.

In the face of international criticism, Ortega attacked Spain and the EU, claiming that they were led by “fascists” and “Nazi parliamentarians”.

(REUTERS)

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