The European Union's foreign policy chief said Monday that Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has crushed any prospect of free and fair elections in November by arresting dozens of opposition figures.
“The opposition has been eliminated. Nicaraguans are being deprived of the basic human and civil right to vote in a credible, inclusive and transparent election,” Josep Borrell said in a statement.
Nicaragua is scheduled to hold national elections Nov. 7. and Ortega is seeking a fourth consecutive term. He placed an opposition vice presidential candidate under house arrest last week, yet another sign of increasing repression.
Borrell was further irked by last Friday's decision to strip the last opposition party of its legal status.
He said that “President Ortega and (Vice President and first lady Rosario) Murillo must stop this autocratic spiral.”
Last week, the EU slapped sanctions on Murillo and seven other senior officials accused of serious human rights violations or undermining democracy. The sanctions include asset freezes and bans on travel in Europe.
Also last week, the United States slapped visa restrictions on 50 immediate family members of Nicaraguan officials who have been involved in or benefited from Ortega’s growing repression. The U.S. State Department said Friday the officials include lawmakers, prosecutors and judges.
Over the past two months, Ortega’s government has arrested nearly three dozen opposition figures, including seven potential challengers for the presidency.