3.11.06

¡Viva Sandinistas!

Independent Online Edition > Americas:

More than two decades after they first swept to power, Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas appear poised for victory in Nicaragua's presidential elections.

Despite heavy-handed interference from the US, which has actively campaigned against Mr Ortega, the 60-year-old former president is eight to 10 points ahead of his rivals, just days away from Sunday's vote. Polls suggest he is less than one point away from the 35 per cent he needs to win in the first round and avoid the need for a run-off.

'It's a different time,' Mr Ortega said this week. 'We are at peace. Sixteen years have passed since the war ended... and I ask God to give us a chance to govern in peace together, without political differences.'

If Mr Ortega secures victory he will do so despite remarkable interference from the US, whose ambassador in Nicaragua, Paul Trivelli, has been outspoken in his disapproval of the Sandinista leader and in support of Eduardo Montealegre, the candidate for the National Liberal Alliance who is currently placed second in the polls. Mr Ortega's previous attempts at securing the presidency, which he lost in 1990, have also met with strident US opposition.

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