- BBC News World
Nicaraguan authorities arrested Félix Maradiaga on Tuesday, another potential opponent of leader Daniel Ortega for the elections scheduled for November 7.
Maradiaga was accused of terrorism and conspiracy against the sovereignty and independence of Nicaragua. He is being investigated under a controversial new security law passed in December by the Ortega government.
The United States called Ortega a “dictator” after Tuesday’s arrest.
This is the third arrest of a potential opponent of Ortega five months from the date of the elections.
Last week, the opposition leader Christian Chamorro She was placed under house arrest for alleged money laundering, an accusation she denies.
And on Saturday another opposition figure, Arturo Cruz, He was detained at the Managua airport when he was arriving from the United States.
President Ortega, 75, is seeking a fourth consecutive term.
In the latest arrest, Maradiaga, 44, a likely presidential candidate for the Blue and White National Unity coalition, was later detained after being summoned to a hearing at the Managua prosecutor’s office on Tuesday.
Police reportedly detained the opponent and his lawyer in their car after leaving the office.
An opposition spokesman said police had beaten Maradiaga during the arrest and that his whereabouts were unknown.
“He is being investigated for carrying out acts that threaten independence, sovereignty and self-determination, inciting foreign interference in internal affairs and calling for military interventions,” a police statement said.
Also for “organizing with financing from foreign powers to carry out acts of terrorism and destabilization,” he added.
The move prompted a swift condemnation from the top US diplomat for Latin America.
“The arbitrary arrest of presidential candidate Félix Maradiaga … should resolve any remaining doubts about Ortega’s credentials as a dictator,” Julie Chung said.
José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, also expressed his concern on Twitter: “In the last 30 years, I have never seen anything like this. Multilateral efforts are urgently needed to arrest Ortega.”
These charges against Maradiaga stem from a law passed in December which points to “those who ask, celebrate and applaud the imposition of sanctions against the Nicaraguan State.”
Supporters say it is to defend Nicaragua’s sovereignty against hostile foreign influence, but critics say it is designed to prevent opposition politicians from running for office.
The United States and the European Union have imposed sanctions against Ortega and his government.
Opponents in prison
Arturo Cruz, 67, is in preventive detention while prosecutors investigate allegations of “provocation … and conspiracy to undermine national integrity.”
Cristiana Chamorro, also 67, was placed under house arrest days after announcing that she would seek to become the presidential candidate of the opposition Citizen Alliance.
Many in the opposition see her as the best hope of winning Ortega at the polls. His mother defeated him in the 1990 presidential election.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.