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Nicaragua to renew, replace de facto officials

Roberto Rivas, accused of rigging the past four elections, is expected to be reelected

Nicaragua Dispatch/ archive

Roberto Rivas, accused of rigging the past four elections, is expected to be reelected

Sandinista lawmakers say the National Assembly will finally elect — and reelect— new government officials to replace the 54 party apparatchiks who have been squatting in their posts for several years after the expiration date on their term limits.

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Leaders of the Sandinista-dominated National Assembly announced they will appoint a special commission this Friday to start considering the candidacies for the first 29 posts, some of which have been occupied by de facto officials for more than four years, thanks to a dubious 2010 presidential decree that extended everyone’s term limits indefinitely. All 54 de facto officials are expected to be replaced or renewed before Semana Santa starts on April 10, according to Sandinista lawmaker Alba Palacios.

Roberto Rivas, the man who loved to count votes

Tim Rogers

Roberto Rivas, the man who loves to count votes

The special commission will be stacked with Sandinista lawmakers determined to reelect Supreme Court magistrate Rafael Solís, who led an armed attack on the Holiday Inn in Managua after his term limit expired in 2010, and Supreme Electoral Council president Roberto Rivas, accused of rigging the last four elections and questioned repeatedly about his inexplicable accumulation of wealth in recent years.

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The Sandinistas and their allies have already announced their intention to reelect both magistrates — two of the key figures responsible for President Daniel Ortega’s total control over the judicial and electoral branches.

“There are some candidates who I think I’m going to vote for; I understand Roberto Rivas is (a candidate for reelection) in the Supreme Electoral Council and I am going to support Roberto Rivas with my vote. And in the Supreme Court there are others also, like Rafael Solís, who’s running as a candidate, and I think I am going to support him also,” stammered Sandinista remora Wilfredo Navarro, who has used his seat in congress to support Ortega’s party following the collapse of the PLC.

“Yes, I am going to vote for Roberto Rivas and I am going to vote for Rafael Solís,” Navarro repeated with a bit more confidence, according to Sandinista media.

The Independent Liberal Party (PLI), which doesn’t have enough votes to represent any real opposition to the Sandinistas’ supermajority, has agreed participate in the process — not that it matters.

PLI lawmaker Wilber López


PLI lawmaker Wilber López

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The commission, which will be comprised of three Sandinistas (José Figueroa, Irma Dávila and Alba Palacios), one opposition congressman (Wilber López) and wannabe Sandinista Wilfredo Navarro, will have 15 days to consider the candidacies of the first 29 high officials, including 12 Supreme Court judges, 8 substitute judges, and two Attorneys General, as well as directors of the directors of the Nicaraguan Energy Institute, among a handful of other lesser bureaucrats.

The PLI says it’s participating because they’ve been calling for elections for years. But given the Sandinistas have 60 votes and legislate unilaterally in the National Assembly, the minority opposition don’t expect their role to count much.

“We are respecting the constitution and the institutionalism that should prevail in this country; that’s why we’re taking this first step,” said opposition congressman López.

He adds, “We’d like to change all the magistrates in the Supreme Electoral Council and the Supreme Court— all the government officials that have done harm and brought shame to this country, but we don’t have the votes to do it.”

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