Nicaraguan Congress takes office after questionable elections

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) – Members of Nicaragua’s new congress have taken office, a day before President Daniel Ortega is sworn in following highly questionable elections.

Of the 90 legislators sworn in on Sunday, 75 belong to the Sandinista party of Ortega and the 15 others come from small parties considered to be collaborators of the regime.

Lawmakers elected longtime Sandinista and congressman Gustavo Porras to head the unicameral legislature.

Members of Congress like Ortega were elected in the November 7 elections which drew international condemnation.

Ortega was elected for a fourth consecutive term in the elections, which were widely criticized as a farce after seven likely candidates for Ortega were arrested and jailed in the months leading up to the vote.

The Nicaraguan government announced in November that it would withdraw from the Organization of American States, a regional body that has accused the Ortega government of acts of repression and election rigging.

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

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

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

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