Nicaragua’s leftist President Daniel Ortega has won a third straight term, with his colourful wife Rosario Murillo as vice president, results have showed, but the opposition and the US condemned the election.
With 99.8 per cent of ballots counted, the 70-year-old former Marxist rebel had 72.5 per cent of the vote, the country’s Supreme Electoral Council said on Monday.
His nearest competitor, Maximino Rodriguez of the right- leaning Liberal Constitutionalist Party, had just 15 per cent.
Ortega, who has ruled Nicaragua for 20 of the past 37 years, has been accused of using the courts to limit the power of the opposition.
His opponents branded the election a “farce” – a criticism echoed by the US, which said the “flawed” process had made free and fair polls impossible.
“The Nicaraguan government sidelined opposition candidates for president, limited domestic observation at the polls… and took other actions to deny democratic space,” State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said in a statement.
“The decision by the Nicaraguan government not to invite independent international electoral observers further degraded the legitimacy of the election.”
There was mixed reaction in Latin America.
Ortega received congratulations from several countries, including not only leftist allies in Cuba, Venezuela and El Salvador but also the government of Mexico.
However, President Luis Guillermo Solis of neighbouring Costa Rica criticised the lack of international observers and real opposition.
As Ortega’s opponents had urged Nicaraguans to boycott Sunday’s vote, all eyes were on turnout.
Electoral officials said 68.2 per cent of voters cast ballots. The opposition gave a wildly different estimate: under 30 per cent.
“We don’t recognise the results of this farce,” Violeta Granera, head of one of the opposition parties, the Broad Front of Democracy, told reporters before the tally.
The opposition demanded new elections with international observers present.
Government and electoral officials described the vote as a great exercise in democracy, conducted in “calm” – despite the torching of one rural polling station.
“It’s a vote for peace, for the security of the Nicaraguan people,” Ortega said after casting his ballot.