A third opponent and potential candidate for the presidency of Nicaragua, Felix Maradiaga, was arrested Tuesday, June 8 after responding to a summons from the prosecution which opened an investigation against him for acts against the sovereignty of the country and incitement to foreign interference , said the public prosecutor.
The US State Department reacted immediately, calling the arrest a“Arbitrary” and President Daniel Ortega from “Dictator”. “The international community has no choice but to treat it as such”, reacted on Twitter the head of American diplomacy for the Americas, Julie Chung.
Presidential candidate Felix Maradiaga’s arbitrary arrest- the 3rd Nicaraguan opposition leader arrested in 10 days… https://t.co/wQfIYAeVIT
The charges against Mr. Maradiaga are part of a new legal arsenal put in place in December by President Ortega, who could run for a fourth successive term on November 7. This new law punishes “Acts which undermine independence, sovereignty and self-determination, which incite foreign interference in internal affairs, require military interventions, are organized with the funding of foreign powers to commit acts of terrorism and destabilization ”.
A muzzled opposition
Felix Maradiaga, 44, is the pre-candidate for National Unity (UNAB), a platform made up of civil society organizations that supported the 2018 protests demanding the resignation of President Ortega and which left 328 people dead.
He is the third opponent and potential candidate for the presidential election of November 7 to be arrested in less than a week, after the arrest on Wednesday of journalist Cristiana Chamorro and that on Saturday on her return from the United States of the former -diplomat Arturo Cruz. The latter declared himself two months ago under the colors of the Citizen Alliance for Freedom party (CXL, right).
Ms. Chamorro, under house arrest, does not belong to any party, but is the main competitor to Mr. Ortega. Many countries have called for his immediate release. “Under Ortega, Nicaragua becomes an international pariah and moves further and further away from democracy”, said Ms. Chung after the arrest of Mr. Cruz, Nicaraguan ambassador to the United States between 2007 and 2009.
The electoral tribunal, made up of magistrates close to the party in power, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN, left), has already excluded from the electoral competition the Democratic Restoration Party (PRD, evangelical) and the Conservative Party (PC, right), one of the oldest in the country. Prior to his arrest, Mr. Maradiaga said he did not have ” nothing to hide “ and denied calling for sanctions against the country, but against “People who have committed crimes against humanity” and human rights violations.