Ortega refuses to admit defeat
Jimmy Carter mediating Nicaragua elections dispute
October 22, 1996
Web posted at: 7:00 p.m. EDT (2300 GMT)
In this story:
MANAGUA, Nicaragua (CNN) -- With more than half the votes in
Nicaragua's presidential election counted, Liberal Alliance
candidate Arnoldo Aleman was the clear winner Tuesday. But
Sandinista candidate Daniel Ortega refused to admit defeat,
claiming the count was fraudulent.
The ballot tally so far shows Aleman winning 48.7 percent to
Ortega's 38.9 percent -- well ahead of the 45 percent
majority Aleman needs to avoid a runoff.
The Liberal Alliance party also looks set to win the most
seats in the National Assembly, although with 23 other
parties also involved in the election, the Liberal holding
will perhaps not be an overall majority. And Liberal
Alliance candidates won majorities in several town councils.
Former United States President Jimmy Carter, the highest-
profile member of the group of observers monitoring the
country's elections, met late Monday with current Nicaraguan
president Violeta Chamorro, Ortega, Aleman and several
electoral authorities to untangle the dispute.
Most observers agree that the elections, though complex, were
essentially clean. "The general consensus among all of the
observers ... is that the election didn't have any degree of
fraud that would subvert the decision of the Nicaraguan
people," Carter told a news conference on Tuesday.
But Ortega didn't back down. "We're concerned over
fraudulent aspects that are emerging in this election, that
there is not a climate of confidence that existed in the 1990
election which allowed the Sandinistas to immediately accept
defeat," Ortega said Monday.
The Sandinistas and other small parties who lost the
elections maintain that tallies from their representatives at
polling stations conflict with the official count from the
Supreme Election Council, which calculated results based on
telegrams sent in by the heads of each polling station.
Carter acknowledged that the minority parties had "a
legitimate concern" about the elections results. "Problems
have resulted from the complexity of these elections," he
said. More than 32,000 candidates from 24 different parties
and alliances ran for 2,000 different posts in this election.
Each voter was issued six different ballots to complete.
To help resolve the issue, the Supreme Election Council will
provide copies of the telegrams to the political parties, so
they can double-check the results. It would also reexamine
its results, Carter said. The process will delay a final
official election result for several days.
After a campaign in which both leading parties lambasted each
other, Nicaraguans seemed prepared to duke out the fraud
question among themselves, rather than accept a calm
resolution to Ortega's claims.
Telephone calls from Sandinista supporters jammed the
switchboards of television talk shows, calling for the vote
to be annulled.
Yet many in Nicaragua sided with the elections commission,
and accused Ortega's Sandinista party, which ruled the
country from 1979 to 1990, of being sore losers. Managua
taxi driver Luis Flores summed it up for many: "The
Sandinistas don't want to accept that the people will never
vote them back into power again."
Correspondent Lucia Newman and Reuters contributed to this report.
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