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Nicaraguan Indigenous Party Says Government Has Barred It Ahead of Local Elections

Nicaraguan electoral authorities barred an Indigenous party that has in the past clashed with President Daniel Ortega, a party official said on Wednesday, leaving the ruling Sandinistas with no opposition in upcoming local elections in two regions.

The official, Sammy Allen Cubero, wrote in a Facebook post that the Yatama party had been disqualified from participating in all future elections, including a local vote scheduled for March.

Cubero, a Yatama youth leader, did not say why authorities had canceled the party’s legal status.

Police have also arrested and jailed two party leaders, Yatama said in statement on Monday, calling the detentions baseless and demanding the release of the two.

Ortega’s press office did not respond to requests for comment on the Yatama allegations. Local media reported that the electoral council had accused the party of inciting foreign interference and treason.

Yatama, short for Yapti Tasba Masraka Nanih Aslatakanka, has roots in Nicaragua’s largest Indigenous community, the Miskitos. The party had been planning to compete for votes in the regions of Costa Caribe and Costa Caribe Norte, both located along Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast.

In its statement, Yatama also said the government had confiscated a pair of local radio stations that served as a platform for Yatama leaders.

The two radio stations have passed into state hands because they were transmitting in the cities of Bilwi and Waspan without proper permits, according to a letter from Nicaragua’s telecommunications regulator sent to the party.

Many critics of Ortega’s government in recent years have had their properties confiscated or have been expelled from the country and stripped of their citizenship, accused of crimes including treason. The crackdown has also included the Catholic Church.

Ortega’s leftist Sandinistas first clashed with the Miskitos in 1981 during the leader’s first term as president, when they were accused of plotting to break away from Nicaragua and 60 people were killed in confrontations, according to official data.

Years later, Ortega reconciled with the Miskitos, but new conflicts emerged in 2018 when community leaders backed mass anti-government protests that left more than 300 dead, according to human rights organizations.

Source : Reuters