Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has overwhelmingly won re-election to a third consecutive term as voters cheered in the streets and overlooked criticism that he is installing a family dynasty.
Ortega, 71, ran with his wife, Rosario Murillo, as his vice-presidential candidate in a race that pitted him against five lesser-known candidates after court rulings weakened the opposition.
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The Reuters news agency reported on Monday that Ortega secured 72.1 percent of votes citing Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council.
The announcement sent hundreds of Ortega’s Sandinista National Liberation Front party supporters out into the streets of the capital to celebrate.
The opposition, which had urged people to boycott the election, disputed that claim, contending “more than 70 percent” of voters did not cast ballots.
Ana Margarita Vigil, a leader from the Broad Front for Democracy, told Al Jazeera the opposition rejected the results and would “fight” the outcome.
“The people of Nicaragua have said ‘no’ to this farce and we are committed to fight until we have new, free, fair and competitive elections.”
Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman, reporting from the capital, Managua, said there was a real fear among some Nicaraguans that Ortega was trying to create a political dynasty.
“For many there is a real concern that history may be repeating itself. Nicaragua fought a revolution that ended a political dynasty that lasted nearly 50 years.
“Murillo’s election as vice president legitimises her already dominant position in the government and allows her to take over if and when the 70-year-old cannot complete his mandate,” Newman said.
However, Ortega will face an increasingly difficult regional landscape in his new term.
Leftist ally Venezuela is overwhelmed by an economic crisis and Cuba is normalising relations with the United States.
The US Congress is also working on legislation to require the US government to oppose loans to Nicaragua from international lending institutions.
“The lack of Venezuelan support, the international price of oil, the price of our exports, and the possibility that [US legislation passes] make it a more complicated outlook for Ortega in the next term,” Oscar Rene Vargas, a sociologist and economist at Central American University, told AFP news agency.