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FSLN holds primary elections

Weekly News Update on the Americas, issue 317, 25 February 1996

On Feb. 18, over half a million people went to the polls in Nicaragua to vote in the party primary of the leftist Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN). For the first time ever, the primary elections were open to all Nicaraguans regardless of party affiliation. According to Julian Corrales, head of the FSLN's National Electoral Committee, the number of voters far exceeded the party's expectations. Especially surprising to many was the large turnout of non-FSLN members. Even former members of the contras are said to have participated. [Nicaragua Network (DC) Hotline 2/19/96]

At least 5,500 polling places were open across the country; voters chose from a list of nearly 7,000 candidates for the posts of president, vice president, National Assembly deputies, mayors, vice mayors and departmental council members. Some voting centers opened late for lack of ballots or transport, or because the organizers failed to appear. In some neighborhoods, the list of candidates was only distributed the night before the elections, causing fears that the elections would not be as successful as hoped. In the north Atlantic region of the country, the voting is to take place Feb. 25 because the ballots did not arrive in time on Feb. 18, according to the National Electoral Committee. [El Diario-La Prensa 2/19/96 from AFP]

While final results have not been released, it appears to be a close race between FSLN secretary general Daniel Ortega and human rights advocate Vilma Nunez for the presidential nomination. Some districts have reported that radio journalist Carlos Guadamuz won the race as candidate for mayor of Managua. [NN Hoteline 2/19/96]

According to a bylined article in rightwing anti-Sandinista Miami paper Diario Las Americas, official results still had not been released by Feb. 23, and rumors were circulating in Managua that fraud was being carried out to favor Ortega's presidential candidacy. The article cites Victor Hugo Tinoco, FSLN secretary of international relations, saying that "uncontrolled passions" were present in the race for the presidential nomination. The FSLN's secretary of organization in Managua, Henry Petrie, was quoted saying that the FSLN's primary elections "left negative effects in the party structures." [DLA 2/24/96]

ISSUE #317, FEBRUARY 25, 1996
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