The following has been submitted in the format of an Oral Statement to the 45th session of the UN Human Right’s Council, and was prepared by Next Century Foundation Research Officer, Alexander Shah.
Since his electoral victory in 2007, President Ortega of the Republic of Nicaragua has made significant advances in reducing levels of poverty and crime in his country. However, this has been paired with a concerted effort to increase his grip on power. Most concerning is Ortega’s increased level of control over the Supreme Electoral Council, responsible for holding free and fair elections in the country. The move echoes that of the authoritarian Somoza regime that President Ortega originally took down decades ago.
With the 2021 general election looming large in the Republic of Nicaragua, it is crucial that President Daniel Ortega allows the participation of international election monitoring bodies. Transparent elections are the only way to ensure that the protests and violence that have dogged the nation for the past two years are not further exacerbated, and that Nicaragua does not slide into further instability. The government must ensure that the country does not see a repeat of the 2016 elections, which were mired in accusations of fraud and voter intimidation.
The Next Century Foundation urges the government of Nicaragua to resume cooperation with international human rights bodies, and to allow journalists, news outlets and NGOs to navigate freely within the country. We ask the government to also heed the demand of its citizens and reverse its ban on protests and release its political prisoners in order to ease tensions across Nicaragua. Finally, we ask President Ortega to begin to engage in negotiations with the opposition in order to establish guidelines for a free and fair election next year.