Daniel Ortega begins third term as Nicaragua president

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega marked his third term in office with an inauguration ceremony on Tuesday

Story highlights

  • President Daniel Ortega: "Savage capitalism ... is no longer possible"
  • Ortega officially begins his third term at a ceremony in Nicaragua
  • In recent months, he has reached for the political middle
  • November's elections have been marred by months of discord over voter irregularities
Daniel Ortega marked the beginning of his third term as Nicaragua's president during an inauguration ceremony Tuesday -- an event both buoyed by his pledges of moderation and marred by months of discord over voter irregularities.
The Nicaraguan leader pledged that his socialist government would continue efforts to promote peace and attack poverty.
"Savage capitalism, it is no longer possible. There is no space on this planet for savage capitalism," Ortega said in a wide-ranging inauguration speech that touched on a international events, including war in Afghanistan, last year's earthquake in Japan and the killing of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.
Shortly after taking his oath of office, Ortega hugged Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who were among a number of dignitaries at the ceremony.
"People have tried to give many interpretations to the visit of (Ahmadinejad). I think they still don't understand that it is necessary to look for an authentic path toward peace," Ortega said during his inauguration address, stressing that it was within Iran's right to use nuclear technology for energy needs.
"They cannot deny that right to any people," he said.
Ortega is known as a Venezuela ally, had been a public supporter of Gadhafi and remains a stalwart U.S. critic.
In his speech Tuesday, the Nicaraguan president decried Gadhafi's killing.
"A head of state in Libya was assassinated in the most brutal manner, with some television media basking in the crime. If there were accusations, it was logical to detain him," he said.
Cable channels throughout the Central American nation were blocked during Tuesday's inauguration ceremony, which drew a crowd of thousands and was broadcast on national television.
Since the country's November elections, Ortega, 66, has reached for the political middle, making overtures to the business class with promises of encouraging foreign investment.
But his critics say they fear the former leftist revolutionary is looking to solidify Sandinista party control over state institutions and have pointed to reports of ballot fraud and voter intimidation.
According to a report presented by the Organization of American States, irregularities included problems providing identification cards to vote, problems in the accreditation of observers and imbalances in political parties present at polling stations.
Ortega, who fought against the U.S.-backed contras during the 1980s, won the country's elections in November with 64% of the vote, though subsequent protests and clashes have left several people dead.
Nicaragua's constitution bars presidents from being re-elected, but that did not stop Ortega from running in his sixth straight presidential race.
Ortega was first elected as president in 1985, and ran unsuccessfully in 1990, 1996 and 2001 before being elected again in 2006.