Nicaragua's Ortega: President for life?

Nicaragua's National Assembly approved a new Constitution this week, clearing the way for President Daniel Ortega's indefinite reelection.

Oswaldo Rivas/Reuters
Opposition politicians participate in the first session of the 30th Legislature at the Nicaraguan parliament building in Managua, Nicaragua, January 28, 2014.

•  A version of this story ran on the author's site, nicaraguadispatch.com. The views expressed are the author's own.

Nicaragua’s 25 opposition lawmakers walked out on the National Assembly Tuesday after failing to stop the Sandinista supermajority from steamrolling their new Constitution into law, clearing the way for President Daniel Ortega’s indefinite reelection.

The Sandinista reforms were passed in the second round of voting, with 64 “yeas” and 25 “nays.” The voting was along strict party lines.

The two dozen opposition lawmakers belonging to the minority Independent Liberal Party Alliance (BAPLI) abandoned the legislative chamber after casting their protest vote. The opposition claims the new Sandinista reforms were passed without any meaningful consultation of the public, and will serve only to weaken Nicaragua’s democracy and strengthen President Ortega’s grip on power.

Opposition congresswoman María Eugenia Sequeira, second vice-president of the National Assembly, said the people of Nicaragua “gain nothing” from the new Constitution because it will not improve unemployment, education, healthcare, or housing problems. Instead, the congresswoman says, the Sandinista Constitution focuses primarily on foisting its partisan ideology upon the rest of the country.

“What do the Nicaraguan people gain from the indefinite reelection of the president, when we already know from past experiences the consequences that brings?” Ms. Sequiera said.

Sandinista lawmakers approved in line-item vote 26 of the 51 articles of the new Constitution on Tuesday and the rest are scheduled to be rubber-stamped today, without the participation of the opposition.

“We don’t need, and never will need, a Somoza or an Ortega perpetuating himself in power forever,” said opposition lawmaker Alberto Lacayo.

- A version of this story ran on the author's website, www.nicaraguadispatch.com

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