15 March 2009
By Karla E General
Impunity Watch Reporter, North America
MANAGUA, Nicaragua – United States Ambassador Robert Callahan has warned Nicaragua’s Sandinista government that it will freeze $62 million in development aid until the controversy surrounding the disputed municipal elections held in Nicaragua last November is resolved. Callahan has provided a three month window for the Sandinista government to redress grievances of the alleged unfair election.
The ruling Sandinista party governed by President Daniel Ortega claimed an overwhelming victory in November’s elections. Opponents and international human rights groups have criticized the Sandinista Party of conducting fraudulent elections to secure an outcome in their favor. For instance, Ethics and Transparency, an electoral watchdog group, claims that the election was riddled with “systemic fraud.” The group found that more than ten articles of Nicaragua’s Electoral Code were violated in the electoral process. According to Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) acting Chief Executive Officer Rodney Bent, the $62 million in development aid, which is to come from the MCC, will likely be withheld because “[t]he government of Nicaragua has failed to reaffirm its commitment to democratic principles and practices since its suspension in December.”
Ortega has accused the U.S. of “taking bread” from the poor of Nicaragua by holding back the MCC aid. He attests that the election was fair and refuses to negotiate the mayorships won by his Sandinista party.
The MCC will meet in June to make its final determination of whether to award the $62 million for infrastructure and landtitling programs.
For more information, please see:
Associated Press – Nicaragua Blasts U.S.’s Decision to Hold Back Aid – 14 March 2009
Miami Herald – U.S. Warns Nicaragua Over Disputed Elections – 14 March 2009
Tico Times – U.S. Maintains Aid Suspension to Nicaragua – 12 March 2009