From Sat Sep 21 13:30:07 2002
Date: Fri, 20 Sep 2002 12:38:14 -0500 (CDT)
From: NicaNet <>
Subject: News Flash! Nicanet Hotline
Article: 145178
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Arnoldo Aleman removed from presidency of National Assembly!

Nicaragua Network Hotline Special Edition, 20 September 2002

A majority of the members of Nicaragua's National Assembly yesterday elected a new leadership, replacing former president Arnoldo Aleman with dissident Liberal Jaime Cuadra as president of the legislative body. The new National Assembly leadership is composed of three dissident Liberals (who belong to what they call the blue and white bench after the colors of Nicaragua's flag), including Cuadra, three deputies from the FSLN and one member of the Conservative Party. The new leadership immediately proceeded to form two commissions to examine the issue of taking away former president Aleman's parliamentary immunity so that he can stand trial for corruption. Aleman is accused of having stolen at least US$100 million in government funds and deposited much of it in overseas bank accounts.

The session was held without lights, coffee or even, for awhile, air conditioning, provoking the quip that things were really going to boil. Outside anti-riot police guarded the National Assembly building and the surrounding area. Reports from Managua's neighborhoods indicated that there were disturbances in the streets with many saying they were afraid to go out.

A few hours before the vote, Maria Dolores Aleman, a deputy in the National Assembly and the former president's daughter, left the country with her two children, reportedly for San Jose, Costa Rica. Ms. Aleman is expected to lose her parliamentary immunity as well, as a judge has asked that it be lifted so that she can be tried for corruption along with her father.

Maria Fernanda Flores de Aleman, wife of the former president, reportedly left the country also, for San Salvador, El Salvador, although her departure was not registered with immigration authorities at the airport.

Initial reaction from the international community was positive. In answer to a statement from Aleman saying that his removal from the presidency of the National Assembly amounted to a coup d'etat and that it should be considered an act of terrorism, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Cesar Gaviria, noted that legislative immunity cannot be used to put public officials above the law.