Thursday. 30.11.2023

Nicaragua's authoritarian President Daniel Ortega has declared victory in a highly controversial election that will grant him a fourth consecutive term in office.

The 75-year-old former revolutionary and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, had around 76% of the votes cast in roughly 98% of polling stations, according to the electoral authority on Monday.

Ortega ran in Sunday's election without any serious opponents. Several politicians, business people, journalists and activists have been arrested since May, including seven presidential candidates.

An important opposition party alliance has also been excluded from participating.

International election observers and foreign journalists were not allowed to enter the country.

The European Union and the United States say they do not regard the vote as legitimate.

Ortega first came to power after dictator Anastasio Somoza was overthrown in 1979 and has been the dominant political force since.

He led Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990, first in a junta government and then as president. He then returned to the presidency in 2007.

Business empire

Critics say Ortega has morphed into another dictator, who ruthlessly represses opponents in order to continue expanding his business empire and enriching his family.

A constitutional reform in 2014 abolished presidential term limits. Murillo has been vice president since 2017.

Mass demonstrations broke out in April 2018, first against social reforms, later also demanding a new election, among other things. The protests were blasted by the government as an attempted coup and brutally crushed.

More than 300 hundred people died, hundreds were arrested, and more than 100,000 Nicaraguans fled abroad.

Nicaraguan President Ortega declares victory in controversial poll