Finns pull aid to protest Nicaragua’s alleged opposition clampdown

October 31, 2008

MANAGUA – The Finnish government has revoked a 1.95 million euro aid package meant for Nicaragua in protest of what it alleges is a lack of transparency in Nicaragua´s national budget and its municipal elections Sunday.

The Finnish Embassy´s development and governance adviser, María Luisa Babini, told reporters that the funds – equal to about $2.46 million – were meant to be given to Nicaragua as support for its 2008 budget.

But Finland´s Foreign Trade and Cooperation Ministry on Oct. 22 sent a letter to Nicaragua´s Foreign Ministry to announce it was taking back the money, according to a report in the weekly newspaper Confidencial.

The letter said that delivery of the funds was suspended because the government of Daniel Ortega still has not published the final version of the 2008-2012 National Plan for Human Development, and outlawed smaller opposition parties ahead of the municipal elections.

“There are two things that are requested in the budgetary support group: indicators that gauge the country´s progress and also, one of the fundamental principles, free and transparent elections,” said the letter.

The Finnish Embassy here said its government decided to cancel its aid package “when it received the news that there weren´t going to be electoral observers” in the upcoming municipal elections.

News of the revoked Finnish aid, published in the weekly paper Confidencial, came after the U.S. State Department, the European Union, former world leaders including U.S. President Jimmy Carter, and a host of global NGOs issued damning communiqués that target different aspects of Nicaragua´s alleged clampdown on opposition.

For more on Nicaraguan politics, see www.nicatimes.net.

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