“Uniting our voices to categorically reject the government’s reforms”
The country’s two opposition blocs presented
a joint declaration to the nation on April 22
about the executive branch’s electoral reforms.
It was signed by 50 organizations, movements,
political parties and private business associations,
as well as organizations of the Nicaraguan diaspora.
It is the first step on the road to a unified electoral alliance.
For our homeland to peacefully overcome the profound national crisis, aggravated by the regime’s escalating repression since 2018, it is essential to implement an electoral reform that incorporates the legal and institutional transformations needed to provide our citizens and political organizations with the necessary guarantees that allow for holding free, transparent, fair, competitive and observed elections, as a first step to rebuilding the democratic system and establishing the rule of law that guarantees freedom, peace and prosperity to all Nicaraguans.
The process recently initiated in the National Assembly for the election of Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) magistrates and the processing of the bill to reform the Electoral Law presented on Monday April 12 by the FSLN bench, in no way contributes to achieving this objective, which the majority of Nicaraguans demand with the support of the international community.
A free, fair and transparent electoral process that guarantees the popular vote entails the election of a new Supreme Electoral Council capable of restoring credibility and transparency to the electoral system. For this reason, we urge the National Assembly representatives to assume their historic responsibility, with a sense of Nation, to elect suitable and honest electoral magistrates who respect citizens’ will and contribute worthily to a civic and peaceful solution to the national crisis.
The bill to reform the Electoral Law presented by the ruling party’s bench does not respond to the national and international demand for elections with democratic attributes because it fails to incorporate the necessary legal reforms so that the citizens’ vote is respected in the coming national elections; on the contrary, almost all of the proposals aggravate the electoral institutions’ current transparency and credibility crisis.
Among the multiple harmful aspects contained in this bill, we observe that it establishes new restrictions to political liberties, maintains intact the bipartisan formation of the electoral bodies, transfers the prevailing police State to the electoral field, does not establish auditing and purging of the electoral roll, eliminates publicizing the roll and the process of citizen verification, maintains the unconstitutional division between active and passive rolls, and imposes new obstacles and restrictions on political parties.
The so-called reform does not contemplate the possibility of legal remedies that provide legal security, but rather increases the discretionary powers of the Electoral Branch, does not establish legal regulations for national and international electoral observation, does not regulate the vote of Nicaraguans residing abroad, and violates popular will by allowing the Electoral Branch to substitute elected officials, even ex officio. Likewise, the alleged reform incorporates into the electoral legislation the unconstitutional reasons for restricting opposition candidates contained in the Foreign Agents Regulation Law and the Law for the Defense of the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty and Self-determination for Peace.
We, the signatory organizations, have systematically demanded that the regime of Daniel Ortega apply the necessary electoral reforms so that the citizens’ vote is respected, in accordance with the agreement about the restitution of citizens’ rights signed by the Nicaraguan government on March 29, 2019, and that the government immediately releases all political prisoners.
Today, in the face of this new attempt to continue preventing Nicaraguans from freely exercising our right to elect through voting, the signatory organizations UNITE OUR VOICES to categorically REJECT this bill to reform the Electoral Law and DEMAND the implementation of reforms in accordance with those proposed in the October 21, 2020, resolution of the Organization of American States General Assembly.