Nicaraguan police arrested another presidential hopeful Saturday under a new “treason” law passed in December, the latest in a series of moves by President Daniel Ortega ahead of his third consecutive re-election bid.
Police say they detained Arturo Cruz Sequeira, a former ambassador to the U.S. considered a contender for the nomination of the opposition Citizens for Liberty party in the Nov. 7 elections.
A few days prior, police arrested Cristiana Chamorro, who is now being held at her home on charges of money laundering. She was also expected to run against Ortega.
The U.S. has called for the release of both opposition figures.
“[T]heir detention on trumped up charges is an abuse of their rights, and it represents an assault on democratic values as well as a clear attempt to thwart free and fair elections," said the U.S. State Department.
The Nicaraguan legislature in December passed a law that bans candidates “who lead or finance a coup ... encourage foreign interference, ask for military intervention ... propose or plan economic blockades, applaud and champion the imposition of sanctions against Nicaragua or its citizens.”
The legislation drew international protests because it gives Ortega’s government the power to unilaterally declare citizens “terrorists” or coup-mongers, classify them as “traitors to the homeland” and ban them from running for election.
Given that Ortega has already applied those terms to virtually the entire opposition and the leaders of massive 2018 protests against his regime, the law appears aimed at sweeping aside the last roadblock to Ortega’s continuing his longstanding rule over the Central American nation.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.
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