MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Nicaragua’s often fractious opposition formally united Thursday with an eye to ousting President Daniel Ortega in elections next year.
The formation of the National Coalition came one day after members of the Organization of American States met to discuss the deterioration of Nicaragua’s democracy under Ortega.
Representatives from a broad spectrum of political parties and civic organizations signed onto the coalition promising to “fight for justice, democracy and against the dictatorship,” inside a hotel surrounded by police vehicles and anti-riot police.
Luis Fley, a former commander of the U.S.-backed “Contras,” who fought Ortega’s Sandinistas in the 1980s, said the current moment reminded him of that earlier time with violations of human rights and basic freedoms and thousands of Nicaraguans living in exile.
Fley suggested the National Coalition would be an option in elections scheduled for 2021. He compared it to the National Opposition Union that brought President Violeta Chamorro to power in 1990, ending Ortega’s first run as president.
“We’re going to fight for the freeing of the political prisoners, a new Supreme Electoral Council, election reforms, believable and observed elections,” Fley said. “The (National Coalition) is not going to pact with the dictatorship.”
Alexa Zamora, a member of Blue and White National Unity, another group that joined the National Coalition, said “our objective is to remove Ortega, our common enemy.”
Ortega’s administration did not immediately issue any comments on the new coalition’s goals.
Other National Coalition members include the Farmworkers Movement, the Civic Alliance, the Liberal Constitutionalist Party of former President Arnoldo Alemán, the evangelical Democratic Restoration Party and Fley’s Nicaraguan Democratic Force made up of former Contra fighters.
The decision of whether or not to join the coalition was difficult for some and caused internal rifts.
“Today the hope is centered on the (National Coalition) as the only alternative to make change with civic struggle, the only vehicle to make the necessary and urgent changes the country needs,” said Fley,
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