Nicaragua remains violently divided more than a week after contested national municipal elections. On Nov. 18, the opposition Liberal Constitutionalist Party (PLC) candidate for mayor of Managua, Eduardo Montealegre, called off a planned march, charging intimidation by followers of the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), who poured into the capital in the prelude to the planned rally. Montealegre, who called the march to protest what he called fraud in the Nov. 9 elections, said Sandinistas armed with sticks, stones and homemade mortars threatened a confrontation with PLC supporters.
The Sandinistas are demanding that the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) certify their party’s victories in Managua and 100 more of the 146 mayoral races. By law, the election results are supposed to remain provisional until Dec. 5, giving the CSE time to review formal challenges brought by the opposition, which claims widespread fraud. Banker Montealegre has presented counts compiled by Liberal observers at Managua polling places that show him defeating the Sandinista candidate, former boxing champ Alexis Argüello. The PLC refused to recognize last week’s recount of the ballots in Managua because the CSE rejected the presence of international observers.
Managua saw several violent confrontations last week, and clashes also reached Leon, where Liberals are also challenging the results. A convoy from Managua led by Montealegre and other opposition leaders Nov. 16 could only move 30 miles, with Sandinistas erecting barricades on the road. At least seven were injured in clashes that day. (EFE, Nov. 19; Inside Costa Rica, Nov. 18)