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US sanctions Nicaragua officials as Ortega inaugurated again

Managua (Nicaragua), Jan 11 (AP): The US Treasury Department slapped sanctions on more Nicaraguan officials on Monday, the day President Daniel Ortega is to be sworn following highly questionable elections.

The Treasury Department announced it will freeze the US assets of the defence minister, and five other officials in the army, telecom and mining sectors. As with dozens of Nicaraguan officials already under sanctions, US citizens will be prohibited from having dealings with them.

“Since April 2018, the Ortega-Murillo regime has cracked down on political opposition and public demonstrations, leading to more than 300 deaths, 2,000 injuries, and the imprisonment of hundreds of political and civil society actors,” according to a Treasury Department statement.

“More than 1,00,000 Nicaraguans have since fled the country.” The State Department said Nicaragua “continues to hold 170 political prisoners, with many of those detained suffering from a lack of adequate food and proper medical care.” The State Department is also imposing visa restrictions on 116 individuals linked to the Ortega regime, “including mayors, prosecutors, university administrators, as well as police, prison, and military officials.” “Ortega’s corrupt security and judicial system arrested these individuals for practicing independent journalism, working for civil society organisations, seeking to compete in elections, and publicly expressing an opinion contrary to government orthodoxy, among other activities considered normal in a free society,” the State Department wrote.

“President Ortega will inaugurate himself for a new presidential term today, but the pre-determined election he staged on November 7 does not provide him with a new democratic mandate,” according to the statement.

“Only free and fair elections can do that,” it said.

Ortega was elected to a fourth consecutive term in November 7 elections which were broadly criticised as a farce after seven likely challengers to Ortega were arrested and jailed in the months prior to the vote.

His inauguration ceremony is expected to be held later on Monday.

With all government institutions firmly within Ortega’s grasp and the opposition exiled, jailed or in hiding, the 75-year-old leader eroded what hope remained the country could soon return to a democratic path.

Instead, he appeared poised to test the international community’s resolve and continue thumbing his nose at their targeted sanctions and statements of disapproval.

The Ortega regime has been hit by rounds of condemnation and sanctions since the vote.

Nicaragua’s government announced in November it will withdraw from the Organization of American States, after the regional body accused Ortega’s government of acts of repression and rigging the election.

The OAS General Assembly voted to condemn the elections, saying they “were not free, fair or transparent, and lack democratic legitimacy.” Twenty-five countries in the Americas voted in favour of the resolution, while seven — including Mexico — abstained. Only Nicaragua voted against it.

Ortega’s defiant stance has placed Latin American governments in the dilemma of deciding whether to send representatives to the inauguration ceremony.

The Mexican government, for example, flip-flopped repeatedly on Sunday and Monday on whether it would send anybody.

On Sunday Mexico said it would send a mid-level foreign relations official, then said it wouldn’t. President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said on Monday that he wasn’t sure, then corrected and said he would send the charge-d’affaires at the Mexican Embassy in Managua.

The list of those expected to attend includes representatives from China, North Korea, Iran, Russia and Syria. (AP) RHL RHL

(This story is published as part of the auto-generated syndicate wire feed. No editing has been done in the headline or the body by ABP Live.)

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