Opposition presidential hopeful leaves Nicaragua amid harassment and persecution

The wave of arrests against opposition political leaders continues less than four months before the elections in which President Daniel Ortega will seek re-election
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo during a march called "We walk for peace and life. Justice" in Managua, Nicaragua on August 29, 2018.

REUTERS/OSWALDO RIVAS  -   Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo during a march called "We walk for peace and life. Justice" in Managua, Nicaragua on August 29, 2018

Nicaraguan opposition presidential hopeful María Asunción Moreno announced on Sunday that she has decided to leave the country "in the face of harassment, persecution and the threat of my imprisonment by the Ortega Murillo dictatorship".

Moreno, a law professor and constitutional lawyer, made her decision public after the Public Prosecutor's Office asked the judicial authority to order her "forced removal" for failing to appear at appointments made by the Prosecutor's Office, amid a wave of arrests against opposition political leaders less than four months before the elections in which the country's president, Daniel Ortega, will seek re-election.

"Faced with harassment, persecution and the threat of my imprisonment by the Ortega Murillo dictatorship, I have decided to leave the country. I believe that from the harsh exile I will be able to contribute more than from the isolation and incommunicado detention to which our political prisoners are subjected", he said in a message on Twitter.

In the context of the electoral process, the Nicaraguan authorities have arrested opposition presidential hopefuls Cristiana Chamorro, Arturo Cruz, Félix Maradiaga, Juan Sebastián Chamorro, Miguel Mora, Medardo Mairena and Noel Vidaurre, who are being investigated for alleged treason.

Perfiles de las figuras de la oposición detenidas en Nicaragua, hasta el 23 de junio. AFP/AFP
AFP/AFP - Profiles of opposition figures detained in Nicaragua, as of 23 June
Denounces violent raid on her home

In another message, the 50-year-old opposition politician said that "it is increasingly clear that this dictatorship's days are numbered, soon we will have a Nicaragua in freedom".

She also blamed President Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, "if anything happens to me or my family".

In this regard, she denounced that between midnight on Saturday and the early hours of Sunday morning, around 30 police officers violently raided the house where she lived and beat the people who were there.

"They destroyed the electric fence, the doors, the furniture (despite being told that the doors would be opened for them to enter), they beat the people who were there, they mistreated them, they threatened them, when they have nothing to do with me," he wrote in another message.

According to Moreno, the police were not carrying a search warrant and forced those present to sign a document "that they don't know what it contained".

"They also stole my vehicle, with its registration and my driver's licence, which was in safekeeping," he added.
 

El presidente Ortega busca un cuarto mandato consecutivo en noviembre de 2021, y está tirando de todas las palancas a su disposición para asegurar que su Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional retenga el poder
AP/CRISTOBAL VENEGAS - President Ortega is seeking a fourth consecutive term in office in November 2021, and is pulling every lever at his disposal to ensure his Sandinista National Liberation Front retains power.
Prosecutor's office calls for "forced driving

Prior to her complaint, the Public Prosecutor's Office reported that it had requested "forced conduction" against the presidential aspirant and opposition leader Daysi George West, due to the fact that it "has summoned them on more than one occasion" and "they have not heeded the summons or justified their failure to appear".

The opposition Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy proposed Moreno as a presidential pre-candidate for the Citizens for Freedom Alliance, which for its part said it was unaware of the proposal.

The cascade of arrests of several opposition political leaders in Nicaragua has caused hundreds of dissidents and professionals to leave or remain outside the country.

The arrests and exodus of opposition leaders come ahead of general elections on 7 November in which Ortega, a former Sandinista guerrilla who returned to power in 2007 and has ruled alongside Murillo since 2017, will seek re-election for another five years.

The president, who is about to turn 76 and who led a government junta from 1979 to 1984 and first presided over the country from 1985 to 1990, has accused opposition leaders of trying to overthrow him with the support of the United States and has branded them "criminals".