Nicaragua court throws out leadership of opposition party

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Nicaragua’s Supreme Court threw out the current leader of the country’s main opposition party on Thursday and reinstated a former leader who had sued for control of the Independent Liberal Party.

Current leader Eduardo Montealegre had been building a coalition to compete against President Daniel Ortega, who is running for his third consecutive term. Montealegre came second in the 2006 presidential race.

But the court ruled that former party vice president Pedro Reyes Vallejos is the legal representative of the party, based on a suit Reyes Vallejos filed about five years ago.

The ruling invalidates the nominations of the Independent Liberal Party’s candidates for the Nov. 6 elections.

“This is a coup against the opposition because Ortega is afraid of us,” said Montealegre.

Opposition leaders questioned why the court delayed the ruling until so close to the elections.

The PLI, as the party is known, held a nominating convention on June 6 and named congressman Luis Callejas as its presidential candidate, with activist Violeta Granera as his running mate. But under the court’s ruling, those nominations may no longer be valid.

Ortega has been criticized for stacking the judiciary with his supporters.

Legal expert Gabriel Alvarez called the ruling “a destruction of the democratic process in this country, where Ortega dominates everything.”

Reyes Vallejos said the PLI wouldn’t abandon the race against Ortega.

“We are open and willing to work with all those who want to work with us to defeat Daniel Ortega,” he said.