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  HOME | Central America

Constitutional Changes Take Effect in Nicaragua

MANAGUA – Changes to the Nicaraguan constitution that allow President Daniel Ortega to run for re-election as many times as he wishes entered into force Tuesday with their publication in the official gazette.

The document was dated Feb. 10, but the Web site of the official gazette was knocked out Monday by a group of hackers calling themselves the Algerian Ghosts.

The amended constitution eliminates both term limits for presidents and the requirement to win an absolute majority at the ballot box to become head of state.

From now on, a plurality will be sufficient.

Other new provisions give Ortega the authority to reactive retired military personnel and police and to place them in civilian organizations within the executive branch.

The president will also be able to keep public officials in posts for the time he deems appropriate.

The reforms were pushed through at the end of last year by the governing Sandinista party’s majority in congress and approved despite the rejection of the opposition, social movements, civic groups, feminist organizations and businessmen.

“We reject the reforms because they were born illegally,” the leader of the Sandinista Renewal Movement, Ana Margarita Vigil, told Efe.

The opposition’s argument is that there was insufficient consultation regarding the reforms and, because of their impact, they should have been submitted to a referendum.

Ortega, 68, who won re-election in 2011 with 62.45 percent of the vote in an process plagued by accusations of irregularities, is currently in his second consecutive term and third overall.

The president has spent almost half his life as the undisputed leader of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, or FSLN, which toppled the four-decade-long Somoza dictatorship in the late 1970s

Nicaragua’s next general elections are scheduled for 2016.

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