Nicaragua congress takes office after questionable elections

International

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Members of Nicaragua’s new congress have taken office, one day before President Daniel Ortega is to be sworn following highly questionable elections.

Of the 90 legislators sworn in Sunday, 75 belong to Ortega’s Sandinista party and the other 15 are from tiny parties considered collaborators with the regime.

The legislators elected Gustavo Porras, a long-time Sandinista and congress member, as leader of the unicameral legislature.

The congressional members, like Ortega, were elected in Nov. 7 elections that drew condemnation internationally.

Ortega was elected to a fourth consecutive term in the elections, which were broadly criticized as a farce after seven likely challengers to Ortega were arrested and jailed in the months prior to the vote.

Nicaragua’s government announced in November it will withdraw from the Organization of American States, a regional body that has accused Ortega’s government of acts of repression and rigging the election.

The OAS General Assembly voted to condemn the elections, saying they “were not free, fair or transparent, and lack democratic legitimacy.”

Twenty-five countries in the Americas voted in favor of the resolution, while seven — including Mexico — abstained. Only Nicaragua voted against it.

The list of those expected to attend Ortega’s inauguration includes representatives from China, North Korea, Iran, Russia and Syria.

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