San­din­ista Ortega wins Nicaragua pres­i­dency

The Washington Times Weekly - - World -

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (Agence France-Presse)—FormerColdWar foe of the United States Daniel Ortega has won Nicaragua’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, re­sum­ing lead­er­ship of a coun­try he once led in a bloody civil war against U.S.-backed Con­tra rebels, of­fi­cials said late on Nov. 7.

In re­sults handed down by the Supre­meElec­toralCoun­cil,Mr.Ortega, 60, won the Nov. 5 elec­tion out­right, avoid­ing a dif­fi­cult runoff vote against con­ser­va­tive ri­val Ed­uardo Mon­teale­gre, who con­ceded de­feat.

“There­sults­fa­vorDanielOrtega, whom I’ve called to con­grat­u­late,” Mr. Mon­teale­gre, of the Na­tional Lib­eral Al­liance, said in a speech con­ced­ing de­feat.

“He has been elected demo­crat­i­callyand­will­have­to­gov­ernso,”Mr. Mon­teale­gre added, hint­ing at Mr. Ortega’s past as pres­i­dent of Nicaragua’s left­ist San­din­ista gov­ern­ment from 1979 to 1990.

“His ac­tions as pres­i­dent will have our sup­port or our re­pu­di­a­tion,” he said.

An Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Amer­i­can States ob­server mis­sion said the vot­ing was “peace­ful, mas­sive and or­derly, and was con­ducted in ac­cor­dance with the law.”

Mr. Ortega, of the re­formed San­din­ista Party, has since traded his Marx­ist poli­cies for a more lib­eral po­lit­i­cal agenda.

He won 38 per­cent of the vote, with 91 per­cent of vot­ing precincts counted, the coun­cil said. He needed to se­cure at least 35 per­cent of the vote and a five-point lead on his clos­est ri­val to avoid a runoff.

Mr. Mon­teale­gre came in sec­ond with 29 per­cent of the vote, fol­lowed by Jose Rizo, also a con­ser­va­tive, of the Lib­eral Con­sti­tu­tion­al­ist Party, with 26 per­cent.

Pun­dits think a runoff be­tween Mr. Ortega and Mr. Mon­teale­gre would have been dif­fi­cult to pre­dict, be­cause the con­ser­va­tive vote would not have been split.

Gu­atemalan Pres­i­dent Os­car Berger was the first in­ter­na­tional leader to ap­plaud Mr. Ortega’s vic­tory.

“We re­spect the will of the Nicaraguan peo­ple and con­grat­u­late Daniel Ortega,” he told re­porters in Gu­atemala City.

Cuban Pres­i­dent Fidel Cas­tro, on­ceas­t­aunch­sup­port­eroftheSan­din­ista ad­min­is­tra­tion, also con­grat­u­lated Mr. Ortega for his “grandiose vic­tory.”

Through­out­the­cam­paign,Wash­ing­ton had urged Nicaraguans to de­feat Mr. Ortega, whose Sovi­et­backed San­din­ista gov­ern­ment seized private as­sets, dis­trib­uted land to poor peas­ants and bat­tled U.S.-fi­nancedCon­trarebel­sthrough­out the 1980s.

He re­it­er­ated on Nov. 6 that if elected, he would re­spect private prop­erty and said Nicaragua wants to im­prove re­la­tions with the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity.

“I want to work with those who have more — busi­ness lead­ers, bankers — to erad­i­cate poverty,” he told jour­nal­ists on Nov. 7 af­ter meet­ing here with for­mer Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter.

Mr. Carter, who mon­i­tored the vote, later told CNN that key Nicaraguan busi­ness and fi­nance lead­er­she­had­metwere“all­will­ing to give the San­din­istas a chance.”

TheWhiteHous­e­said­war­i­ly­late onNov.7thatit­would­work­withMr. Ortega.

“The United States is com­mit­ted to the Nicaraguan peo­ple. We will work with their lead­ers based on their com­mit­ment to and ac­tions in sup­port of Nicaragua’s demo­cratic fu­ture,” said na­tional se­cu­rity spokesman Gor­don John­droe.

Agence France-Presse / Getty Images

He’s back: Nicaraguan can­di­date Daniel Ortega of the San­din­ista Na­tional Lib­er­a­tion Front ad­dresses sup­port­ers in Managua Nov. 7 af­ter be­ing pro­claimed the coun­try’s next pres­i­dent.

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