Nov. 8 (UPI) — Early returns show that Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega cruised to an easy victory in the Central American country’s election on Sunday — a vote that many Western nations, including the United States, say was no election at all.
Returns on Monday showed that the ballots cast in Nicaragua on Sunday are heavily supportive of Ortega, who’s been the country’s leader since 2007.
The Nicaraguan electoral council said that Ortega secured another five years in office after receiving 75% of more than 1 million counted ballots.
Ortega, a former Marxist rebel who helped overthrow Nicaragua’s Somoza dictatorship during the 1970s, painted Sunday’s election as a choice between peace and economic stability over terror and chaos.
Many observers and critics, however, say that Ortega has veered into a dictatorship similar to the one he helped overthrow more than 40 years ago. They say his government effectively crushed every legitimate challenger before the election and left no one but Ortega on the ballot as a viable option.
“This isn’t an election, this is a farce,” said Berta Valle, the wife of one of the jailed opposition leaders, according to The New York Times. “No one will elect anyone, because the only candidate is Daniel Ortega.”
U.S. President Joe Biden called Nicaragua’s a “pantomime election,” and said it was “neither free nor fair, and certainly not democratic.”
“The arbitrary imprisonment of nearly 40 opposition figures since May, including seven potential presidential candidates, and the blocking of political parties from participation rigged the outcome well before election day,” Biden said in a statement Sunday.
Costa Rican President Carlos Alvarado said his country would not recognize the result of the election and called for the release of Nicaragua’s political prisoners. The Spanish government also said Ortega has created an authoritarian regime.