OAS approves new resolution calling for free elections in Nicaragua

A university student shows his support for political prisoners on February 3, 2021 in Managua afp_tickers

This content was published on Oct 20, 2021 – 20:44

(AFP)

On Wednesday, the Organization of American States approved a new resolution calling for free elections in Nicaragua, in which it again demanded the “immediate release” of detained opponents, including seven presidential candidates, and warned of a “deteriorating” situation for politicians. rights.

The text was supported by 26 of the 34 active members of the regional bloc. Argentina, Barbados, Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines abstained. There were no votes against.

Nicaragua, which vehemently rejected the initiative, was the only country that did not vote.

The decision, which is very similar to the one approved on June 15 with the same number of votes in favour, highlights “with concern” the “determination” of Daniel Ortega’s government to “undermine” the electoral process.

It expresses its “grave concern” at the attempts of the OAS Permanent Council to “oblige” the Nicaraguan authorities to hold free and fair elections.

For this reason, he renews his “call for the immediate release of presidential candidates and political prisoners” and once again “strongly” urges the Ortega government to carry out electoral reforms.

According to the decision, Nicaragua does not meet the minimum standards for holding elections in accordance with the Inter-American Democratic Charter, the regional instrument for the defense of institutions, which “impairs the credibility” of the vote scheduled for November 7.

In recent months, 37 opponents have been arrested in Nicaragua, including seven presidential candidates in the upcoming elections, as Ortega, who has been in power since 2007, is seeking a fourth consecutive term.

Managua denounced the “crude” interference of the Organization of American States in the internal affairs of a country.

“No one should interfere in the direction of our institutional life,” Ambassador Michael Campbell said at the start of the Permanent Council session, on the basis of his non-participation.

The Nicaraguan official emphasized that the electoral process was “advancing” with dozens of political parties and that “those who excluded themselves did so voluntarily.”

“In our country, there is not a single detained candidate, not a single one. There is not a single innocent accused, not a single one,” he said.

Ortega’s delegate said that “those who are subject to legal proceedings are foreign agents who have withheld millions of dollars to destroy, kill, bankrupt the economy and undermine the constitutional order.”

– Calling the Inter-American Charter? –

The Secretary-General of the Organization of American States celebrated the resolution presented by Antigua and Barbuda, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, the United States, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela (represented by the delegate of the opposition leader Juan Guaido), Luis Almagro.

“This demonstrates the commitment of member states to democracy,” he said, stressing that what is happening in Nicaragua “is not just a problem for Nicaragua” but for the entire region.

The text warns that the OAS may take “further measures” with respect to Nicaragua during the organization’s next annual meeting, to be held in virtual form from November 10 to 13, which is organized by Guatemala.

The United States was the most emphatic in this regard.

Bradley Frieden, Washington’s interim representative to the Organization of American States, urged countries to take new measures within the framework of the Democratic Charter of American States if “the Nicaraguan regime complies with its plan to reassert a one-party government.”

He warned that “not doing so in the face of such blatant disregard for its provisions can only encourage other authoritarian governments to follow suit.”

Almagro already in June requested the activation of the mechanisms for applying Article 21 of the Inter-American Charter to Nicaragua.

This clause states that a country can be suspended from the Organization of American States if two-thirds of the member states decide that there has been a “collapse of the democratic system” and “diplomatic efforts fail” to reverse the situation.

The suspension must be voted on in the General Assembly, the highest organ in the Organization of American States, and will take effect immediately.

After Wednesday’s vote, Mexico’s ambassador to the Organization of American States, Luz Elena Baños, noted her “concern” about what she saw as the worsening international isolation of a member state.

“It is clear that the isolation of states within the multilateral fora is a symptom of the failure of organizations,” he said, asking about Almagro without naming it and calling for a “constructive dialogue” towards “sustainable solutions.”

The Argentine ambassador to the Organization of American States, Carlos Raimondi, considered the new decision “inappropriate and untimely”.

The leftist governments of Argentina and Mexico have undoubtedly distanced themselves from Managua. Both called for consultations in June with their ambassadors in Nicaragua due to the “disturbing political and legal measures that have been implemented” against opponents.

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