Daniel Ortega faces pressure to step down as Nicaragua votes

Written by By Staff Writer Nicole Wallace, CNN Nicaragua’s Marta Elena Cabanas has said she expects to become the first woman to be elected president of the country in Saturday’s legislative elections — before…

Daniel Ortega faces pressure to step down as Nicaragua votes

Written by By Staff Writer

Nicole Wallace, CNN

Nicaragua’s Marta Elena Cabanas has said she expects to become the first woman to be elected president of the country in Saturday’s legislative elections — before Daniel Ortega rejects the vote.

In 2017, Ortega and Cabanas challenged US sanctions by ditching the dollar for the local peso, smashing the country’s dollarization program. That move earned them the attention of President Donald Trump, who tweeted: “Nicaragua is now bouncing back much faster than any other country in Central America!”

Nicaragua’s embattled President Daniel Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo (also vice president) appeared at a campaign rally in Managua’s Managua Stadium on Saturday. @CNN en Español (@CNNespanol) pic.twitter.com/7dnPYjDgKW – CNN International (@cnni) September 2, 2018

With three weeks left to go in the campaign, the 68-year-old Communist leader is holding out against international pressure and accusations of voter fraud as a leading opposition candidate surges toward victory.

“Nicaragua is a fundamentally free, independent nation and will continue to be. It is a democratic and free country that decides its own fate … whether we like it or not,” Ortega told supporters at a campaign rally on Saturday.

‘It’s a dictatorship,’ opponent says

Nicaragua’s National Elections Institute (INE) said 62% of registered voters cast ballots last month, compared to 51% in 2014.

The electoral body is set to announce the presidential and legislative victors on September 12, when Ortega is expected to address supporters.

‘Three weeks to go’

President Daniel Ortega speaking at a campaign rally in Managua on Saturday. Nicolas Apodaca / Twitter

Tens of thousands of his supporters turned out for the rally, many waving posters that proclaimed “Nicaragua belongs to the revolution,” and “Daniel Ortega in 2016 was re-elected to a third term.”

The former Sandinista leader, who is being urged by his supporters to run for a fourth term, has led a government since 2007, during which time his reforms have brought free health care and a better education system to many of the country’s more impoverished communities.

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