Conservative claims victory in Nicaraguan election
But Ortega won't concede
October 21, 1996
Web posted at: 5:30 p.m. EDT (2130 GMT)
(CNN) -- With more than a third of the vote counted in Nicaragua's presidential election, conservative Arnoldo Aleman on Monday claimed
"overwhelming victory" over former leftist President
Ortega refused to concede defeat.
Returns from about 36 percent of the precincts in the Central
American country showed Aleman leading with about 48 percent
versus about 39 percent for Ortega. Another 21 candidates
shared the remaining votes.
Though the tally was incomplete, electoral
authorities indicated it was enough to suggest an early
trend. A runoff will be necessary if no candidate receives
45 percent of the vote.
Aleman, the former mayor of Managua, Nicaragua's capital, was
running under the Liberal Alliance party.
Ortega, trying to make a political comeback, led the
Sandinista movement that fought U.S.-backed Contra rebels and
governed the country for 11 years before losing power in 1990
when Violeta Chamorro was elected president. She was
ineligible for re-election.
'Premature' to claim victory
Confident of victory, hundreds of red-shirted Aleman
followers gathered at Liberal Alliance headquarters to
celebrate with music and dancing while they waited for
At Sandinista headquarters, visibly worried officials sought
to put a brave face on the early results, saying the voting
sample was small enough that the final outcome could still go
"It's still very premature to say that someone won or lost.
We ask the Liberal Alliance to display the same calm, to not
yet indulge in triumphalist speeches," Ortega's campaign
manager Alvaro Fiallos told reporters.
The vote marked the first time in Nicaragua that one
democratically elected civilian government has transferred
power to another.
Outgoing President Chamorro called it a "beautiful process"
and thanked Nicaraguans for their patience in the poorly
organized elections, which saw voters start lining up at 2
a.m. Sunday and stand in line for hours.
Press contributed to this report.
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