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Elections end in shouting…again

(posted March 2, 6:30 pm) — And the Oscar for best lead actor in an electoral farce goes to….Roberto Rivas! (Unfortunately, Mr. Rivas couldn’t be here tonight to accept his award; he’s busy on Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast trying to justify another scandalous election process. This is Roberto Rivas’ fourth time winning an Oscar in the electoral farce category).

Nicaragua’s latest attempt to organize something resembling an election ended in shouting Sunday night as opposition leaders repeated familiar cries of vote fraud while Rivas and the ruling Sandinista government patted themselves on the back for another job well done.

Opposition leaders, including sometimes-Sandinista congressmen Brooklyn Rivera, of the regional YATAMA indigenous party, claim Sunday’s elections to pick local government leaders in the two autonomous regions of the Caribbean coast were riddled with irregularities. Topping the list of alleged electoral shenanigans were numerous complaints of the infamous “raton loco,” instances when opposition voters are turned away from voting booths because their names have been mysteriously scrubbed from voting registries, or printed on the wrong registries posted at unknown voting centers (the phenomena so common in Nicaraguan elections, it has it’s own nickname).

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After receiving repeated complaints of “raton loco” from his constituents in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN), YATAMA’s Rivera urged his party members to demand their right to cast ballots at their traditional neighborhood voting centers, regardless of whether their name appeared on the CSE-controlled registry.

The CSE replied with indignation, accusing Rivera and YATAMA of trying to “boycott” the elections. Rivas warned that he could accuse Rivera of “electoral crimes” and strip his party of its legal status.

Rivera scoffed at Rivas’ claim. The indigenous leader said he “couldn’t care less what Rivas says,” and told the de facto electoral magistrate that he’ll have to explain to the indigenous and afro-caribbean populations why their weren’t allowed to vote.

The opposition Independent Liberal Party (PLI) decried the elections as “institutional fraud.” The opposition party echoed concerns about the “raton loco,” accused the government of using the military of intimidate voters, and accused the ruling party of using government vehicles to mobilize Sandinista voters in the mining triangle town of Siuna and parts of the South Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS).

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The Sandinistas and the CSE, meanwhile, claim that the elections were conducted orderly and peacefully, with no irregularities worth mentioning.

The CSE says the first vote tally will be tonight at 10 p.m.

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