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Cablegate: Ortega's Judicial Coup: Political Opposition Unites Against Court's Ruling

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R 232231Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0007
INFO EU MEMBER STATES COLLECTIVE
WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/CDR USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHINGTON DC

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 MANAGUA 001045

SIPDIS
STATE PASS TO AID
AMEMBASSY BRIDGETOWN PASS TO AMEMBASSY GRENADA
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL DUSSELDORF
AMEMBASSY BERLIN PASS TO AMCONSUL LEIPZIG
AMEMBASSY ATHENS PASS TO AMCONSUL THESSALONIKI

E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/10/23
TAGS: PGOV KDEM PHUM NU
SUBJECT: ORTEGA'S JUDICIAL COUP: POLITICAL OPPOSITION UNITES AGAINST COURT'S RULING

REF: MANAGUA 1041; MANAGUA 1035

CLASSIFIED BY: RobertJ.Callahan, Ambassador, State, US Embassy
Managua; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)

1. (C) Summary: On October 21, and in response to the Supreme
Court's (CSJ) decision to allow President Daniel Ortega's
re-election, opposition parties met and issued a communiquC)
denouncing the illegal court ruling and establishing joint
commissions to combat the "consolidation of Ortega's dictatorship."
While it remains to be seen exactly what this united political
opposition does, the fact that this group gathered together is in
itself a significant step towards a united opposition movement.
End Summary.

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Political Opposition Unites - A Big Hurdle
--------------------------------------------- ---------

2. (SBU) On October 21 at the Intercontinental Hotel in Managua, the leaders of the main opposition parties gathered to discuss the CSJ's ruling that allows Ortega's re-election (ref B). Present were: Enrique Saenz, Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS); Eduardo Montealegre, Vamos con Eduardo/Independent Liberal Party (VcE/PLI); Arnoldo Aleman, Constitutional Liberal Party (PLC); and Carlos Garcia, Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN). These four political leaders were joined by Roger Arteaga from the Nicaraguan American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), Jose Adan Aguerri from the Higher Council of Private Sector (COSEP), and Julio Icaza from Movimiento por Nicaragua (who served as moderator of the effort and also represented the broader civil society movement).

3. (SBU)The joint statement signed by the political opposition:
(1) rejects the "unconstitutional" ruling of the CSJ; (2) calls on
the Liberal magistrates of the CSJ to state in writing their
rejection to the ruling and the break in constitutional order; (3)
calls for the political parties to form committees to focus on
political, legal, international, mobilization, and communications
issues to prevent the consolidation of Ortega's dictatorship; (4)
calls on the political committee to work with civil society in
their actions; (5) calls for the parties to work with the private
sector to formulate an economic agenda for the legislature; (6)
pledges the group to work together in the National Assembly to
defend democracy and the rule of law; and (7) calls on the
citizenry to forcefully and peacefully reject Ortega's dictatorial
tendencies. The full text of the statement is included at the end
of this report.

4. (C) Since January 2009, when the PLC and ALN joined with the FSLN to take control of the National Assembly and dropped efforts to address the November 2008 municipal elections fraud, these parties have largely worked independently or with one other party - never had all four combined on any single issue. The fact that these four political parties sat at the same table and issued a joint statement is in itself a big move for the political opposition. Particularly telling of the degree to which the opposition is concerned about the Court decision was the fact that the MRS sat at the table with Arnoldo Aleman. The MRS considers Aleman as detrimental to Nicaragua as Ortega. Just a week earlier (and before the CSJ ruling), Saenz told us that his party was working on coordinating a cross-sector association to oppose Ortega's re-election efforts. At that time he made explicit that he had invited the PLC to join the association, but had made it clear to the Liberal party that Aleman would not be welcome to participate. However, immediately following the Court's decision, MRS leader and former guerrilla commander Dora Maria Tellez told PLI leader Montealegre that "we know Aleman was involved in the decision but we must pretend that he wasn't and give him the space to join the rest of us in opposition and do something to stop a further slide into dictatorship."

5. (C) Montealegre proposed the idea of forming the group, with the
inclusion of Aleman, as a means to present a common front to the
Nicaraguan people and, as Tellez noted, to force Aleman to choose
sides in this conflict. Montealegre believes that Aleman was
involved in, or at least had prior knowledge of, the Court's
decision to permit presidential re-election because, in Aleman's
view, it would likely strengthen his efforts to gain control over
all the opposition forces and secure his candidacy for the
presidency in 2011. By making Aleman one of the many members at
the table, Montealegre hopes to minimize Aleman's influence and his
ability to exploit the situation, while also compelling Aleman and
the rest of the PLC to take concrete steps to oppose Ortega.

-------------
Comment
-------------

6. (C) The communiquC) and agreement to work together is a
significant step forward in Nicaraguan politics. That these four
opposition parties from across the ideological spectrum, with a
long history of animosity, managed to put aside their differences
and unite for one common, basic cause is a strong signal to the
Ortega government that they may have overplayed their hand in
forcing constitutional change through the courts. That civil
society and the private sector also participated and supported this
effort, gives hope that this unity effort might take hold and
provide concrete actions. Nonetheless, while this united front is
significant, it remains to be seen what concrete actions they
actually take. Significant differences remain on how to advance
their agenda and key votes in the National Assembly are likely to
be scheduled next week that will test whether this unity effort can
survive.

--------------------------------------------- -------
Communique Signed by the Opposition
--------------------------------------------- -------

7. (SBU) Following is the translated text of the statement issued
by the opposition parties:

Pronouncement

The democratic political parties and movements with representation in the National Assembly (the Constitutional Liberal Party, Independent Liberal Party/Movement Vamos con Eduardo, Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance, Sandinista Renovation Movement, and independent deputies); in the presence of representatives from the Higher Council of the Private Sector (COSEP), the Nicaraguan American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM), and organized civil society;

United

To defend democracy in the face of a break in constitutional order
on behalf of six magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice with
affinity for orteguismo, who issued an unconstitutional mockery of
a ruling to satisfy President Daniel Ortega's sick dictatorial
pretensions for a continuation of power,

Agree

1. To reject and disregard the unconstitutional mockery of a ruling
issued by a group of magistrates of the Supreme Judicial Court, as
it consists of an act conducted in open violation of the political
constitution, lacking legal value, and breaking the constitutional
order.

2. Adopt and approve the forceful statement by the magistrates of
the Supreme Court of Justice respectful of the rule of law
denouncing the coup d'etat from "orteguismo;" and urge the members
of the Constitutional Chamber who did not participate in the
assault on the institutionality to make their opinion known in
writing to the nation and the international community, denouncing,
rejecting and disregarding the break in constitutional order.

3. Create a political committee comprised of two members from each
democratic political party and movement with representation in the
National Assembly to define and coordinate the implementation of
the necessary strategies to prevent the consolidation of the
orteguista dictatorship; and to form specific committees for
judicial, international, mobilization and communication issues.

4. As part of its mandate, in defining its work the political
committee will take into consideration proposals presented by civil
society organizations.

5. Urge the private sector, so that through its professional
organizations it coordinates with the political organizations which
are signatories to this document to create a legislative economic
agenda to the benefit of all Nicaraguans.

6. To act in unison in the National Assembly to defend democracy
and the rule of law. As an initial expression of this unity, no
law will be approved that harms the citizens or worsens the
economic crisis of the country.

7. Call on all citizens committed to democracy, in particular the private sector, organized civil society, and professional organizations, to forcefully express and peacefully demonstrate their rejection of this newest expression of the dictatorial pretentions of President Daniel Ortega.

Managua, October 21, 2009
CALLAHAN

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