Ortega Eyes Recall, End To Term Limits
By Morgan Lee (AP)
Managua - Nicaraguan opposition lawmakers on
Monday condemned a public appeal for
constitutional changes by President Daniel
Ortega as an attempt to extend term limits
and eventually allow the leftist leader's
At a massive celebration of the 30th
anniversary of the Sandinista revolution on
Sunday, the president and former guerrilla
fighter proposed to allow recall elections
and criticized presidential term limits for
being stricter than other public offices.
"If we are going to be just and fair, let
the right to re-election be for all and
people with their vote can award or punish,"
Ortega told a crowd. "This is the principle
that we have to defend."
Nicaraguan law bars presidents from
consecutive terms in office or more than two
terms in all. Ortega ended a first stint as
president in 1990 and was elected again in
2006 to a five-year term.
Opposition lawmaker Jose Pallais said
Ortega's proposals appeared to follow the
example of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez,
who has expended presidential term limits
and powers by public referendum, and
President Manuel Zelaya of Honduras, who was
ousted by a coup last month over plans for a
referendum on a constitutional convention.
Many Hondurans saw the latter vote as an
attempt to impose a Chavez-style socialist
government and perpetuate himself in power.
"Ortega would be using the same Chavista
recipe that Zelaya used in Honduras to say,
if the constitution prohibits something,
direct democracy can authorize him," Pallais
Officials at Ortega's office could not be
reached Monday, an official holiday.
Pallais said the president appears to be
seeking the congressional votes to obtain
the 60 percent majority needed to revise the
constitution, but he worried Ortega might
seek a public referendum on the issue
despite legal obstacles.
Ortega is better positioned than Zelaya was
to initiate constitutional changes, said
Daniel Erikson of the Inter-American
Dialogue in Washington.
"Ortega has a much stronger political base
in Nicaragua than Zelaya did in Honduras,"
Erikson said. "At the end of the day,
Zelaya's political support had dwindled and
basically any institution with any weight
had turned away."