Wednesday December 01, 2021

US warns of new sanctions over ‘undemocratic’ Nicaragua election

November 09, 2021
US warns of new sanctions over ‘undemocratic’ Nicaragua election

Washington: The United States warned on Monday of additional sanctions against Nicaragua after President Daniel Ortega was declared the winner of an election widely denounced as a sham.

"We will continue to use diplomacy, coordinated actions with regional allies and partners, sanctions and visa restrictions, as appropriate, to promote accountability for those complicit in supporting the Ortega-Murillo government’s undemocratic acts," Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

Nicaraguan authorities have detained seven would-be presidential challengers since June, virtually assuring a fourth consecutive term by Ortega and the vice president, his wife Rosario Murillo.

"While Ortega and Murillo may remain entrenched in power, Nicaragua’s undemocratic election does not and cannot provide them any democratic mandate to govern," Blinken said. He said the United States would work with other democracies, including through a meeting this week of the Organization of American States, to "press for a return to democracy through free and fair elections and full respect for human rights in Nicaragua."

"This must begin with the immediate and unconditional release of those wrongfully imprisoned," Blinken said. The United States has already slapped sanctions on Ortega, Murillo and a number of Nicaraguans in their inner circle over actions in the runup to Sunday’s election.

Meanwhile, Russia on Monday denounced Western calls not to recognise Sunday’s presidential election in Nicaragua as "unacceptable", saying the vote took place "in accordance with the law."

The US dismissed the landslide re-election of President Daniel Ortega to a fourth straight term in Nicaragua as a "sham", while the EU said the Central American country was now fully an "autocratic regime."

"The White House, literally last night when elections ended, refused to recognise them and called on other countries to do the same," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

"We consider this unacceptable and we strongly condemn such a stance," Lavrov said at a news conference in Moscow with his Venezuelan counterpart Felix Plasencia. Plasencia said Nicaragua’s election was "held in an orderly manner, in full compliance with Nicaraguan legislation."

"What we should do, and it’s a good opportunity to do it in Moscow, is to reject Washington’s interference in Latin America," he added. In a statement on Sunday, US President Joe Biden called the Nicaragua vote a "pantomime election that was neither free nor fair, and most certainly not democratic."

Washington and the EU have already imposed sanctions against Ortega’s family members and allies amid a wave of arrests in the lead-up to Sunday’s vote. Lavrov also told his Venezuelan counterpart that Russia would continue to provide Caracas -- a Moscow ally -- with "constructive assistance."

Russia’s top diplomat said Moscow stands "in solidarity" with Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro amid what he called "external pressure and the use of illegitimate sanctions" against his government.