Ortega cries foul amid electoral chaos

Nicaragua poll: Stunned Sandinista leader demands recount after crushing defeat by Aleman

Six years ago, he cried in defeat. This time, he cried "fraud". The Nicaraguan Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega, refused to accept his crushing defeat in Sunday's presidential election at the hands of conservative lawyer Arnoldo Aleman.

Mr Aleman, 50-year-old leader of the Liberal Alliance coalition, won 48.5 per cent of the vote to Mr Ortega's 39 per cent, according to incomplete official results.

But even as the former United States President Jimmy Carter was saying that the elections had been free and fair, Mr Ortega, 50, summoned reporters to Sandinista headquarters to dispute the result.

Looking stunned, standing with his wife behind him, Mr Ortega called for a recount in some areas. "Annul the vote. Viva Daniel," shouted about 100 hardline supporters who suddenly appeared behind the media representatives.

"Unlike in 1990 [when he was defeated by conservative Violeta Chamorro], at this moment we cannot accept the result," he said. "There were several anomalies. In Matagalpa, comparing the official results with our parallel count, we found 60,000 votes missing out of 300,000.

"We will continue fighting for the poor until the end," he concluded, to the cheers of his supporters. His remarks raised tension here after a voting day which had passed peacefully and was widely seen as a sign of Nicaragua's increasing political maturity.

Politically, the defeat could mean the end of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN), at least in its present form. Mr Ortega had already moved towards the centre during the campaign. Some analysts said that in refusing to accept the result, the Sandinista leader, soundly beaten for the second straight time, was playing the only card he had left - the ability to disrupt the government by keeping his supporters in a state of revolt.

That could lead to a new polarisation in Nicaragua, particularly if, as many here claim, Mr Aleman proves to be something of an admirer of the former dictator Anastasio Somoza.

Mr Aleman rejected Mr Ortega's claim and called him a bad loser. Even some moderate Sandinistas agreed, expressing embarrassment at the FSLN leader's stance at what has been seen by most Nicaraguans as a time of reconciliation.

The party that came a distant third in the presidential race, the Nicaraguan Christian Path (CCN), also claimed fraud and called for a totally new election. Mr Carter, however, heading an observer delegation from his Carter Centre in Atlanta and a European Union mission of observers, dismissed the existence of any significant fraud.

Mr Aleman's coalition was a reshuffled version of the United Nicaraguan Opposition (UNO), which Mrs Chamorro led successfully in 1990. She was widely criticised during her tenure for failing to create jobs, economic growth and security.

Many Nicaraguans blamed continuing Sandinista influence in key positions, notably the army and the bureaucracy, for her perceived weak leadership.

Mr Aleman, whose wife died of cancer in the late Eighties, has promised to create 100,000 jobs in his first year. From a well-off coffee-farming family, he had his property confiscated by the Sandinistas and spent six months in jail after someone accused him of being "counter- revolutionary". He has denied being a follower of Somoza, ousted by the Sandinista revolution in 1979 and assassinated in exile a year later, but is said to have belonged to a pro-Somoza youth movement.

He has, however, admitted that he would like to recreate a baseball team called the Five Stars, which was renowned under Somoza but broke up during the revolution.


Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
peopleLynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance moves audience to tears
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon


Stephanie first after her public appearance as a woman at Rad Fest 2014

Arts and Entertainment
Laura Wood, winner of the Montegrappa Scholastic Prize for New Children’s Writing

Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Database Administrator

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: The role could involve w...

Science Teacher

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified secondary s...

Deputy Head of Science

£22000 - £36000 per annum + MPR / UPR: Randstad Education Southampton: Our cli...

Finance Manager - Recruitment Business (Media & Entertainment)

£28000 - £35000 per annum + negotiable: Sauce Recruitment: We have an exciting...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London