OAS meets with Managua candidates

OAS mission gets two very different accounts of electoral process from Sandinistas and opposition

(posted Oct. 14, 6:50 p.m.)- The Organization of American States’ (OAS) electoral accompaniment mission spent last Friday meeting with the various mayoral candidates for Managua and getting various contrasting opinions about how the election process is being handled by the Sandinista-controlled Supreme Electoral Council (CSE).

Eduardo Fonseca, mayoral candidate for Managua for the Liberal Constitutional Party (PLC), delivered a jeremiad of irregularities in the election process, starting with the rushed electoral calendar, the participation of “ghost candidates” by several minority parties, “serious problems” with the voting registry, problems registering poll watchers, the dramatic increase in city council representatives due to a Sandinista reform, and a voter ID process contaminated by partisan politics.

A litany of complaints: PLC candidate Eduardo Fonseca, back right, meets with the OAS electoral mission, seated on the left of the table (photo/ PLC)

Fonseca also complained about the CSE’s arbitrary decision to change the ballots.

The PLC has also raised concern about the OAS’ role of “electoral accompaniment” (a provision not contemplated by Nicaraguan law) and not “electoral observers,” which is the role of observers stipulated by Nicaragua’s Electoral Code. Others claim the distinction is an irrelevant semantic choice by the CSE’s rather particular de facto boss Roberto Rivas, and it won’t affect the OAS’ work in practice.

Fonseca also reminded the OAS that Nicaraguan authorities didn’t take any of the OAS’ recommendations into account following the 2011 general elections, and told them to brace for a repeat performance by Rivas and his merry men.

Then it was the Sandinistas’ turn to talk to the OAS, and they got a much different story. Incumbent candidate Daysi Torres couldn’t think of any issues that concerned her about the election process, but was enthusiastic to repeat her party’s rhetoric about how peace and love.

“We have talked in our campaign about solidarity, about bringing a message of peace to every home to prepare ourselves for the elections, to live in an environment of calmness, tranquility, enthusiasm and lots of happiness, which is how all electoral processes in all countries should be,” Mayor Torres told the OAS team, according to Sandinista media. 

Torres went on to say how positively tickled she is that the OAS is accompanying the electoral process. The incumbent mayor repeated that she is certain the elections will be “celebrated in an atmosphere of tranquility and happiness because the people are content to vote, and we hope it continues that way until the end.”

Lázaro Cárdenas, head of the OAS mission, refrained from offering any opinion about his meetings with the various Managua candidates. He said it’s not his job to offer any prejudgments about the electoral process because he is still in the phase of collecting information that will be included in his final report after the polls.

Cárdenas said his 65 member “accompaniment team” from the OAS will be arriving in the country in the coming days.

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