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Cablegate: Government Bars Two Main Democratic Parties From

VZCZCXYZ0007
OO RUEHWEB

DE RUEHMU #0761/01 1681507
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 161507Z JUN 08
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 2742
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUMIAAA/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL PRIORITY
RUEHBS/USEU BRUSSELS PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC PRIORITY
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

C O N F I D E N T I A L MANAGUA 000761

SIPDIS

STATE FOR WHA/CEN AND DRL
STATE PASS USAID FOR LAC - CARDENAS
NSC FOR FISK/ALVARADO

E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/16/2018
TAGS: PHUM PGOV KDEM NU
SUBJECT: GOVERNMENT BARS TWO MAIN DEMOCRATIC PARTIES FROM
ELECTIONS

REF: MANAGUA 706

Classified By: Ambassador Paul Trivelli, Reasons 1.4 (b, d)

1. (C) SUMMARY. On June 11, Nicaragua's Supreme Electoral
Council (CSE) revoked the legal registration (personeria
juridica) of the Movement for Sandinista Renovation (MRS) and
the Conservative Party (PC), two minority democratic parties
that represent as much as 20 percent of the potential
electorate. The ruling prevents the parties from
participation in elections for the next four years, including
the November municipal elections, as well as from using the
party names and symbols. Ominously, the decisions were also
forwarded to the Prosecutor General's office for action,
opening the door for criminal prosecutions. Following the
announcement, hundreds of demonstrators in support of the
parties and the hunger strike of MRS leader Dora Maria
Tellez, blocked a major intersection of Managua for hours and
later marched on Rivas's home, chanting "coward."
Demonstrations are continuing, including in other cities.
Civil society and other opposition leaders have publicly
denounced the decision and a range of joint actions are
planned for the coming days.

CSE TAKES STRICT APPROACH
-------------------------

2. (U) On June 11, the Supreme Electoral Council issued the
expected decrees (reftel) barring the MRS and PC from
participating in elections for the next four years, including
the upcoming municipal elections, based upon several supposed
violations of the Electoral Law. The CSE ruled that the PC
had failed to register candidates in 80 percent of the 153
municipalities and 80 percent of the available seats (i.e.,
at least 1589 candidates), as required by the law. According
the CSE, following the initial candidate registration period,
501 PC candidates renounced their candidacy and were replaced
by only 400 candidates, leaving a deficit of 101. Under the
new total, the PC therefore had on 75.8 percent of the
necessary candidates and failed to meet the basic minimum,
"established by the law" for participation. The CSE
therefore ruled to revoke the party's personeria juridica for
a period of four years and forwarded the notice to the
Prosecutor General's office for investigation of "electoral
fraud."

3. (U) Regarding the MRS, in a six-page convoluted decision,
the CSE ruled that the MRS had failed to properly establish,
document and register a number of the municipal and
departmental branches of the party, as required by the
Electoral Law. This process dated from the February 2007,
when the MRS changed its name and structures from the
Movement for the Rescue of Sandinismo to the Movement for
Sandinista Renovation. In particular, the CSE determined
that in 52 municipal party structures, insufficient
information was provided, nullifying these structures.
Because the process of establishing these party structures
failed to meet both internal party and CSE legal
requirements, the CSE found that the MRS had "auto-dissolved"
itself, and therefore its legal registration was also
canceled and the case sent forward to the Prosecutor
General's office for potential electoral fraud, similar to
the PC above.

4. (C) Several party legal experts suggested to us that both
the PC and MRS had probably committed the errors identified
by the CSE. However, these errors, under the CSE's own
standards and past history, should have been treated as
administrative violations resulting in temporary suspension
of the party until the corrections are made and the party's
lists or statutes brought into conformity with the CSE. In
particular, the CSE decision that the MRS had
"auto-dissolved" itself empowered the CSE to revoke the
personeria juridica and eliminate the party for the next four
years, a decision not legally possibly under a simple
administrative penalty.

CIVIL SOCIETY PUSHES BACK AND BEGINS TO UNITE
---------------------------------------------

5. (C) Civil society and party leaders responded immediately.

MRS and PC activists blocked a prominent intersection in
central Managua, where MRS leader Dora Maria Tellez has been
on a hunger strike for more than a week in support of the
party and respect for human rights and the rule of law. The
hunger strike location has quickly become the center for
opposition activity over the past week and a rallying point
for all those concerned about democracy and the rule of law
in Nicaragua. Protesters blocked the intersection for hours
and later marched on the home of CSE Chief Roberto Rivas,
chanting "coward," breaking through the front gates, and
later overturning a press vehicle belonging to
FSLN-controlled TV channel 4. Vamos con Eduardo-PLC leader
and Managua mayoral candidate Eduardo Montealegre denounced
the decision and over 200 VCE-PLC municipal candidates, in
town for training, joined the demonstration in a sign of
support. Further demonstrations, including several organized
by coalitions of NGOs, are planned for the coming days.
Comments by other civil society organizations, including the
two leading business associations, will be reported septel.

COMMENT
-------

6. (C) The CSE decision, though expected, is a serious blow
to the democratic movement and represents a significant
narrowing of democratic space in Nicaragua. Without these
parties, Nicaraguan voters are left with few democratic
alternatives in the municipal elections or for the
foreseeable future. Regardless of the legal merits of the
cases, the CSE clearly applied its authority in an arbitrary
and partisan manner, ignoring other small parties aligned
with or controlled by the FSLN, and in implementing the most
punitive decision possible, rather than following a standard
administrative procedure.

7. (C) At the same time, the decision has served as a wake-up
call to Nicaragua's civil society and democratic political
leadership on the need to cooperate, bridge their
differences, and unite in the face of growing threats to
fundamental democratic freedoms. Montealegre and MRS leader
Edmundo Jarquin are looking at possible joint efforts, along
with key civil society organizations, in the coming week to
demonstrate unity among the democratic forces. If this can
happen, Nicaragua's democratic movement will have taken a
significant step forward. Nonetheless, FSLN President Ortega
and PLC leader Arnoldo Aleman have demonstrated with this
decision that they are prepared to engage whatever public and
international risk is necessary to eliminate potential
threats to their continued accumulation of personal political
power.

TRIVELLI

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
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