Ortega's hopes hit by ballot fiasco
Monday 21 October 1996
But a failure both to register 130,000 voters on time, almost 5 per cent of the electorate, and to get ballot slips to outlying areas, sowed the seeds of a dispute if the result is close. Even in the capital, Managua, where former United States President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker toured as observers, ballot slips had not arrived at some polling stations hours after voting was supposed to start.
Mr Ortega, 50, a leader of the 1979 revolution and president from 1984- 90, is running against a conservative lawyer and coffee farmer, Arnold Aleman, of the Liberal Alliance, a re-hash of the coalition which Mrs Chamorro led to victory in 1990. The result should be known today, with a second round planned next month if no candidate scores 45 per cent.
Mr Aleman, also 50, headed the Sandinista leader by 20 percentage points in the summer but Mr Ortega narrowed the lead with a slick campaign in which he apologised for past mistakes and said he had switched to free market ideas. Hovering over the vote was the spectre of renewed civil strife if the result is close, if there are allegations of fraud or if armed groups in the central highlands carry out their threat of renewed guerrilla warfare.
Despite the 1990 disarmament agreement which ended a 10-year war between the army and the US-backed Contra guerrillas, about one-third of the country remains under the control of guerrilla groups known as los rearmados (the re-armed ones). A few are demobilised Sandinista soldiers but most are former Contra guerrillas. Although they number perhaps only 500 men in total, they control a large swathe of territory. At least one group, the Andres Castro United Front (FUAC), threatened to attack troops or police if they entered rebel territory on election day.
Voting appeared peaceful, despite heated campaigning.
Sources in the Supreme Electoral Council, which oversaw the election, said the council came close to postponing the vote by a day when it became clear that the ballot slips had not yet reached many outlying areas. As well as president, voters had to choose national deputies, mayors, local councillors and representatives to the regional Central American parliament.
- 2 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
- 5 Amal Clooney gives excellent answer to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
King Salman: Just five days in, Saudi Arabia's new king has already overseen a beheading
Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
Amal Clooney gives excellent answer to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Mafia's wall of silence broken: Victim of Cosa Nostra's extortion rackets in its Corleone heartland co-operates with authorities for the first time ever
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: This post arises as a result of the need to...
£120 - £150 per annum: Tradewind Recruitment: I am recruiting on instruction o...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£24000 - £28000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Wim...