In recent weeks, Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega’s government has rounded up 13 opposition leaders, including four presidential challengers for the November 7 elections, accusing them of money laundering and other crimes against the state.
The Organization of American States' Permanent Council has approved a resolution condemning the arrest in Nicaragua of presidential pre-candidates, restrictions imposed on political parties and calling for the immediate release of political prisoners.
In a virtual meeting on Tuesday, 26 countries voted in favour of the resolution while Nicaragua, Bolivia and St Vincent and the Grenadines voted against it. Mexico, Honduras, Argentina, Belize and Dominica abstained.
In recent weeks, Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega’s government has rounded up 13 opposition leaders, including four presidential challengers for the November 7 elections. They face allegations ranging from money laundering to crimes against the state.
Last week, the US Treasury imposed sanctions on several people close to Ortega, including his daughter.
Ortega has maintained that massive street protests that erupted after reforms to the social security system in 2018 were actually an attempt to remove him from office with foreign backing.
Nicaraguan police arrested and jailed five prominent opponents of Ortega over the weekend, including one-time rebel allies who denounced the detentions as an assault on democracy.
The arrests beginning late on Saturday marked a deepening political crisis in the Central American nation, ahead of the November election in which the leftist Ortega, 75, is seeking to extend his 14 years as president.
Over the past few weeks, a dozen opposition figures have been arrested on orders from Ortega's security apparatus, including four declared presidential rivals.
Ortega loyalists argue they are only enforcing the law, which prohibits would-be candidates from receiving foreign financing or the publication of information the government determines to be false.
In statements, the police blamed the detainees for seeking to undermine the country's independence and sovereignty, as well as for "inciting foreign interference in internal affairs, requesting military interventions and organizing with foreign financing."
The latest raids targeted the leadership of the leftist opposition Unamos party, including its president, Suyen Barahona, and former General Hugo Torres.
Unamos is made up of many former Ortega allies like Torres, who fought alongside him in the late 1970s as they drove right-wing dictator Anastasio Somoza from power.
Just before he was arrested, the 73-year-old Torres uploaded a video that denounced Ortega for launching a "second dictatorship" and betraying the values he once championed.
"These are desperate acts from a regime that can feel itself dying," he said.
Critical journalists have also been questioned by authorities in recent weeks.
"These actions against the Unamos leadership are part of an escalation of repression from the Ortega regime against the democratic opposition," Unamos said in a statement.
Earlier this month, police placed opposition leader Cristiana Chamorro under house arrest shortly after she announced a presidential run, seeking to end Ortega's three consecutive terms in office.
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