MANAGUA – Four people have been killed and 46 police officers injured over the last 24 hours in violence related to last weekend’s election in which Daniel Ortega won another term as president of Nicaragua, authorities said Wednesday.
Supporters of Independent Liberal Party, or PLI, presidential candidate Fabio Gadea, who has refused to accept the result, account for three of the fatalities, while the fourth was an official of Ortega’s Sandinista party, National Police spokesman Fernando Borge told a press conference in Managua.
Sources in the PLI, however, put the death toll among their members at five.
Five of the injured police officers were shot, while an undetermined number of civilians have also been hurt in the disturbances, Borge said.
The deaths of the PLI partisans took place Tuesday during a clash with Ortega loyalists in the northern town of San Jose de Cusmapa, according to the police spokesman, who identified the fatalities as Mercedes Perez, 60; Jose Ariel Torrez, 22; and Elmer Cruz, 25.
PLI campaign chief Eliseo Nuñez said five of his party’s supporters were killed in San Jose.
“They have been murdered. The witnesses say they were machine-gunned this early morning by hooded people dressed in blue,” Nuñez told Efe. “It was a political murder.”
Tuesday also saw a battle between supporters of Gadea and Ortega in the Caribbean coastal town of Siuna, where the local Sandinista party secretary, Donaldo Martinez, was killed, Borge said.
He said the PLI partisans in Siuna also shot at police sent in to quell the unrest.
Ortega took 62.6 percent of the vote on Sunday, followed by Gadea with 31.1 percent, Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council said Tuesday.
Gadea, an octogenarian radio personality, rejects the official results and accuses the government of having mounted an “unprecedented and monstrous fraud.”
“The indignant people ... have a right to civic protest, by God,” Gadea said Wednesday at a press conference, repeating his demand for a re-do of the elections.
Polls ahead of the vote indicated that Ortega would win, but his candidacy was labeled illegal by the opposition because of legal maneuvers he employed to get around the constitutional ban on a president’s serving consecutive terms.
The Nicaraguan Constitution prohibits immediate re-election, but Sandinista magistrates on the Supreme Court declared the article dealing with re-election to not be applicable, opening the door to Ortega’s candidacy.
Ortega, 65, previously governed Nicaragua from 1979-1990, first as leader of the Sandinista junta that toppled dictator Anastasio Somoza and then as the country’s elected president.
Returning to the presidency in 2007, the Sandinista leader resorted to the courts after failing to persuade the National Assembly to alter the constitution so he could run again this year. EFE