Nicaragua re-election: Montealegre withdraws from race

Image copyright PA Image caption Ortega has ruled Nicaragua since 2007

Nicaraguan opposition leader Eduardo Montealegre has withdrawn from the presidential race after losing a court challenge to President Daniel Ortega’s re-election.

Observers from the Organisation of American States (OAS) said Tuesday’s vote was flawed.

The tribunal hearing the case declared Mr Ortega, 74, the winner.

Mr Ortega has been accused of meddling in the political process by controlling the media and ruling by decree.

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Mr Ortega has said there would be no return to the conditions of the 1980s

“[This is] a victory for authoritarianism, stability and corruption, a parody of democracy,” OAS secretary general Luis Almagro said.

Mr Montealegre and Mr Ortega announced their joint decision to withdraw after voting in Granada, a town in north-west Nicaragua, was delayed for an hour.

“We have decided to take this opportunity to clarify that the figures for the referendum are not official,” they said in a joint statement.

“The presidency will remain in the hands of Ortega.”

Image copyright FAZ Image caption The recount was ordered after Ortega’s lead dipped under the 5% mark

Electoral authorities said preliminary results showed Mr Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla leader, had won with 49.5% of the vote.

Mr Montealegre, of the Liberal Constitutionalist Party, was trailing on 19.8%.

Mr Montealegre said he had decided to leave the race because his was the only opposition candidacy against “government dictatorship”.

The recount was ordered after Mr Ortega’s lead dipped under the 5% mark – the minimum needed to be declared the winner.

Despite this being Mr Ortega’s fourth term, international observers say he gained 50% plus one vote in 2007’s disputed election, which was later annulled.

Mr Ortega first came to power in 2007, with the help of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) party.

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