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09 June 2021

Two more possible presidential candidates arrested in Nicaragua

09 June 2021

Nicaragua’s National Police arrested two more potential challengers to President Daniel Ortega, the third and fourth opposition pre-candidates for the November 7 elections detained in the past week.

Felix Maradiaga was arrested after being called to the attorney general’s Office to provide a statement.

He is being investigated for alleged crimes against the government.

His campaign said in a statement that police stopped him, his driver and his lawyer after they had left the attorney general’s Office.

Later, police announced the arrest of Juan Sebastian Chamorro, another pre-candidate and former director of the opposition coalition Civic Alliance.

He had received a notice to appear for an “interview” on Wednesday at the Attorney General’s Office to give a statement about a case against the non-governmental group Nicaraguan Foundation for Social Development that he led until 2018.

A police statement said he was being investigated for similar alleged crimes as Mr Maradiaga.

Just before his arrest, Mr Maradiaga had told journalists he was interrogated for four hours about his activities as the former director of a non-governmental group focused on economic research, whether he had ties to drug traffickers and if on his trips to the United States he had requested sanctions against Nicaragua.

Nicaragua’s President Daniel Ortega speaks next to first lady and Vice President Rosario Murillo (Alfredo Zuniga/AP) (AP)

He said he told them he had requested sanctions “but not to punish the people, but rather government officials who have committed crimes against humanity”.

Last week, authorities detained Cristiana Chamorro, a cousin of Juan Sebastian Chamorro, and Arturo Cruz Sequeira, a former ambassador to the United States who was arrested on Saturday under a controversial “treason” law passed in December.

On Monday, a judge ordered Mr Cruz held for three months while an investigation is carried out.

Cristiana Chamorro remains under house arrest.

Vice President and first lady Rosario Murillo mentioned the investigations on Tuesday and characterised the subjects of the probes as “terrorists” and “criminals”.

“They believe they’ll be forever unpunished, (but) justice arrives, late but it arrives in this Nicaragua that had been prospering and in reconciliation,” she said.

“How much we would have done with what this mountain of thieves stole, not just thieves but also terrorists, criminals.”

Mr Ortega is seeking a fourth consecutive term as president.

His government has been moving aggressively to clear the field of challengers.

Mr Maradiaga was a pre-candidate for the opposition coalition Blue and White National Unity.

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