Nicaragua parliament approves controversial law barring opposition from 2021 election
© Presidencia El Salvador / Flickr
Nicaragua parliament approves controversial law barring opposition from 2021 election

The Nicaragua National Assembly Monday approved a law that will bar opposition politicians from participating in the November 2021 election.

The “Law for the Defense of the Rights of the People to Independence, Sovereignty and Self-Determination for Peace” was sponsored by President Daniel Ortega and bars “those who ask for, celebrate and applaud the imposition of sanctions against the Nicaraguan state.” It gives the government power to unilaterally declare citizens “terrorists” or “traitors to the homeland,” and to ban them from running as political candidates. Treason can be punished by imprisonment of up to 15 years.

The law was passed by 70 votes, with only 15 voted against, and four abstained from voting.

Numerous human rights groups have opposed this law. The Organization of American States (OAS) called on the government to repeal the law, stating that those acts “would deny the Nicaraguan people the right to freely choose their representatives, transforming the 2021 elections into an imposition rather than an election.”

The US has also sanctioned 27 people close to Ortega, including his wife and three children. On Monday, the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions on three more individuals: Vice President of the Nicaraguan Supreme Court of Justice Marvin Ramiro Aguilar Garcia; a Deputy of the National Assembly, Walmaro Antonio Gutierrez Mercado; and a Chief of the Nicaraguan National Police in Leon, Fidel De Jesus Dominguez Alvarez.

Despite the opposition, elections will be held in November 2021, and Ortega is expected to run again.

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