Nicaraguan right claims poll victory
MANAGUA, Nicaragua --Nicaragua's conservative ruling party have taken
over leftist Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega as early official results from Sunday's
presidential election emerged.
Roberto Rivas, president of Nicaragua's Supreme Electoral Council, said
were in from five percent of polling stations.
They showed that ruling Liberal Party candidate Enrique Bolanos scored
support while Ortega trailed with 45.35 percent.
Unofficial reports said that a "quick count" carried out by an independent
group showed that Bolanos was headed for certain victory, Reuters said.
Bolanos, 73, is a former vice president who saw most of his businesses
during the Sandinista era.
Liberal Party supporters began their celebrations early on Monday.
Ortega swept to power in a 1979 revolution and his socialist government
U.S.-backed Contra rebels in a bitter civil war that killed some 30,000 people in the
He was ousted from office in 1990 elections and lost again six years
later, but he
kept control of his Sandinista party and, with the country in economic crisis, opinion
polls had showed him running neck and neck with Bolanos going into Sunday's
Election turnout was so great that election officials said some voters
queued up to cast ballots at 11:30 p.m. on Sunday -- five-and-a-half hours after the
lines to vote were closed nationwide.
"I was struck by the fact that in nearly every single village we could
see long lines of
people who were waiting to vote," said U.S. Rep. David Dreier, a California
Republican who was part of a congressional observation group that toured the
country by helicopter.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was among thousands of local and
watchers scattered across the nation of 5 million people to monitor what was
expected to be a tight and tense election.
Once a socialist revolutionary who wore olive-green uniforms as president,
sought to soften his image, campaigning in pink shirts and with the slogan "the path
His earlier governments followed socialist policies, confiscating property,
opponents and drafting tens of thousands of youths to fight U.S.-backed rebels
while trying to bring jobs and food for all.
Ortega has vowed to follow market-based policies and to seek good relations
the United States.
He said his government would include several people who had been jailed
Sandinista government of the 1980s.
But U.S. officials openly tilted against him, expressing concern about
his party's past
ties to terrorists and its past socialist policies.
Bolanos promised to continue the free-market policies of outgoing President
Aleman, but with a greater emphasis on fighting corruption.
Under a Liberal-Sandinista deal that reformed the constitution, third
severely restricted and key posts divided up on a partisan basis.
The pact also means Aleman, as former president, becomes a member of
country's congress -- with legal immunity from prosecution.
The new president's first task will be to tackle economic troubles in
a country with a
per capita income of about $430 a year. Millions live on about a dollar a day.
Aleman's government has increased foreign investment, but it remains
saddled with a
$4 billion foreign debt and is unlikely to meet financial targets agreed upon with the
International Monetary Fund as a condition for more debt relief.
Slumping world markets, a slowing global economy and the terror attacks
the United States have hurt Nicaragua's top income sources: coffee, tourism,
assembly plants and remittances from Nicaraguans abroad.