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Exterior view of Nicaragua's Supreme Electoral Council building. The central American nation is preparing for to hold its presidential election on Sunday Exterior view of Nicaragua's Supreme Electoral Council building. The central American nation is preparing for to hold its presidential election on Sunday 

Questions abound ahead of Nicaraguan elections

Nicaragua’s sitting president, Daniel Ortega, is eyeing a fourth consecutive term along with his wife Rosario Murillo, who serves as his vice president. But after a wave of arrests, which started in June, critics question whether the political playing field in Nicaragua is plain, impartial, and fair.

By James Blears

In the runup to Sunday’s Presidential and Congressional Election, which will also elect members of the 92 seat National Assembly, more than forty opposition figures, including seven once potential candidates for the top job, have been arrested and are out of the running. This started in June.

Ortega, who is now seventy-five, led the Sandinista Revolution that toppled dictator Anastasio Somoza. The Sandinista Liberation Front (FSLN) ran the country from 1979 until 1990. Ortega won the 1985 presidential election, but lost in 1990, 1996, and 2001. He won in 2007 and has been in power since.

Among those arrested in the lead-up to this election are Cristiana Chamorro and her brother Juan Sebastian, an ex-Senator. Their mother, Violetta, won the Presidency in 1990.

Nicaragua’s Electoral Council has also banned three opposition political parties. Most of those detained were arrested under the Sovereignty Laws passed last year.

The United States and the European Union say these elections are a sham, while President Ortega insists the actions taken are to safeguard the democracy of Nicaragua.

Four and a half million Nicaraguans are eligible to vote. Observers will be watching the turnout to gauge sentiment in the country. The new administration starts on January 10, empowered with a five-year mandate.

Listen to James Blears' report:
06 November 2021, 16:12