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  Number 477 | Abril 2021
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Nicaragua

Given the government’s lack of political will…

In this April 19 declaration, ten potential presidential candidates reject the reforms to the Electoral Law, proposed by the executive branch and presented to the legislative branch for its approval following an invitation to the opposition to present its views. This declaration is the unified response of the 10 announced pre-candidates.

Presidential Pre-Candidates

On April 19, Nicaraguans commemorated three years of confronting the most serious socio-political crisis ever experienced in peacetime. Different actors and sectors from political life, civil society, the Catholic Church and business associations have made every effort by civic and peaceful means to return to the path of democracy, justice, security and prosperity our people long for.

We Nicaraguans and the international community have been demanding electoral reforms that guarantee the holding of free, transparent, fair, competitive and observed elections, as well as the reestablishment of a democratic institutional system to enable a resolution to the crisis.

We also continue to demand the release of all political prisoners, the unrestricted guarantee of freedom of speech, of mobilization and of the press; the independent work of human rights organizations and defenders; the safe return of all persons in exile and the suspension of the police State.

In this adverse context, the National Assembly called for the appointment of Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) magistrates and the ruling party has presented a reform bill and additions to the Electoral Law, with contents showing a lack of will to implement significant reforms consistent with applicable international norms aimed at establishing a legal framework that will give it ostensible advantages in the administration and party control of the electoral process, establishing legal restrictions to limit the participation of opposition parties and candidates, placing the ruling party at a clear advantage in the unfolding of its electoral campaign, with the purpose of remaining in power indefinitely.

Given this situation, we have the obligation to the people of Nicaragua and the international community to categorically reject these proposals and expose the government’s maneuvers and the manipulation it is trying to effect against the transparent, free and impartial administration of the next electoral process for the following reasons:
• It attempts to reform the Political Constitution by means of the Electoral Law, establishing new restrictions to be applied to opposition candidates who are running for popularly elected positions, in flagrant violation of the Constitution.
• It attempts to disregard the constitutional mandate to elect electoral magistrates in consultation with the pertinent civil organizations.
• It maintains exclusive bipartisan control of the electoral system.
• It eliminates the concept of electoral observer and replaces it with a more limited one, such as that of an auxiliary.
• It maintains active and passive electoral rolls [respectively all those who supposedly voted in the last two presidential elections and all those who supposedly did not] to limit citizens’ voting rights.
• Atypically, the National Police and not the CSE is empowered to authorize party demonstrations during the electoral campaign, turning the President of the Republic, as Supreme Chief of the National Police, into a judge and part of this electoral process.
• The CSE resolutions that give that highest electoral body the faculty to challenge the constitutional rights, duties and prerogatives of citizens and candidates in electoral matters is an unconstitutional broadening of its power.
• It restricts the right to mass citizen verification, which is fundamental to cleaning the electoral roll.
• No mechanisms are established to implement effective ID registration.
• It legalizes the figure of the Voting Center Coordinator, appointing him/her without any technical-legal criteria for the appointment and assignment of powers; formalizing the role of a political party operator with wide-ranging logistical and administrative powers in the voting center.
• It institutionalizes a repressive regime against the political opposition by incorporating laws into electoral legislation that violate the Political Constitution and the fundamental rights of Nicaraguans: Foreign Agents Regulation Law and Law for the Defense of the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty and Self-determination for Peace.

We, the undersigned, given the government’s clear lack of political will, continue to demand reforms that truly reestablish confidence in the Electoral System and guarantee the holding of free, fair, competitive, transparent and observed elections in November of this year. Likewise, we reiterate our commitment to a civic, democratic and peaceful solution to the current political, social and economic crisis and demand that the government comply with the agreements signed in March 2019 and with the October 2020 resolution of the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly.


_____________________
Arturo Cruz, Cristiana Chamorro, Félix Maradiaga, George Henríquez,
Juan Sebastián Chamorro, Luis Fley, María Eugenia Alonzo, Medardo Mairena, Miguel Mora and Noel Vidaurre.

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