Nicaragua’s Ortega insists his departure would be 'path to anarchy': exclusiveComments
Nicaragua's president Daniel Ortega was defiant in an interview with Euronews, insisting he is the only leader who can save the country from being taken over by drug traffickers.
The controversial president told Euronews's Oscar Valero:
He will not allow elections until they are due in 2021 to avoid creating a precedent
That the death toll from protests against his rule has been exaggerated
That polls showing the strength of the opposition is misleading and a "good portion" of the country supports him
That gangs of masked men accused of violence against civilians are in fact volunteer police
Major cities and towns of Nicaragua have been in the grip of violent protests since a violent crackdown on demonstrations against pension reform in April.
Ortega says the death toll is 195 people, while the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights put it at 400.
The US and the opposition are both demanding elections but Ortega is adamant he will remain for his full mandate.
Asked whether he would consider snap elections he said:
"No, no. The opposition has told me, they have even told me that I have to leave now, they have shouted at me that on April 19. I think it would be a very serious precedent for the good of the country. If another government arrives then the [Sandinista National Liberation] Front would have the right to stop the country and ask the government to leave the following day. We would be setting a precedent.... it would be a country in anarchy."
"To follow that path is to open the door to anarchy in the country. A broken Nicaragua would be taken over by drug trafficking," he added.
He also said that responsibility for the current situation rested with Washington:
"The truth is that we are facing a powerful enemy that intervened militarily in Nicaragua, which is the United States…"
- You can read an explainer on the crisis, here.