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Ortega Shields Nicaragua’s Top Electoral Official after U.S. Issues Sanctions

ISSN:1089-1560
LADB Article ID: 80544
Category/Department: Nicaragua
Date: 2018-03-08
By: Benjamin Witte-Lehbar

Never one to take his marching orders from “el imperio” (the empire) to the north, Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega has come up with a signature “solution” to a conundrum he has faced since late last year, when the US government issued sanctions against one of his key political allies, Roberto Rivas, head of the country’s top electoral authority, the Consejo Supremo Electoral (CSE).After weeks of conspicuous silence, the Ortega regime finally responded in early February by introducing a curious “electoral reform” bill that the unicameral legislature, dominated by the governing party, the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional (FSLN), quickly approved. Rather than remove Rivas—as the US government and even 58% of Nicaraguan citizens would like, according to a recent CID Gallup poll—the Ortega administration opted to keep him on as president of the CSE but transfer his duties to the body’s vice president, Lumberto Campbell. Campbell is now the de-facto president of the CSE, while Rivas, who hasn’t been seen in public since the sanctions scandal erupted in December, is free from most day-to-day responsibilities yet maintains his decorative title, government salary (reportedly US$5,000 per month) and perhaps most importantly, immunity from prosecution.

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