Nicaragua’s outgoing leader Daniel Ortega appears to be heading for a landslide victory in the country’s presidential election.
Early results indicate Ortega will win a third term with a better-than-predicted 63% of the vote.
His nearest rival could only muster a forecast 29%.
Ortega, a former Sandinista guerilla leader and Marxist has spent heavily, with the support of Venezuela, on health, education, microcredits and gifts of livestock in this mainly agrarian nation.
Yet only Haiti is poorer in south and central America, and that poverty extends to elections says the opposition.
“The victory of democracy was anticipated. That’s the only way to explain why all day long our members were put under pressure and why there were irregularities in the count as the votes came in,” said the Liberal Independent Party’s Fabio Gadea.
Claims of ballot-rigging have been met by conflicting reports from European and South American observers. The Europeans say the vote was free and fair, while the local observers say they have found evidence of fraud.