San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Nicaragua's Ortega supports ending ban on consecutive presidential terms

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega recently affirmed his support of the idea to end a ban on consecutive presidential terms and said he supports the idea of a parliamentary system.

In an interview with British journalist David Frost of the Al-Jazeera network, the Sandinista president explained that the ban on consecutive term limits was introduced to the Nicaraguan Constitution in 1995 by a right-wing government, a move that was “partially to prevent the people from being able to exercise their right to elect authorities as they felt was fit.”

“Since 1996 … we (the Sandinista National Liberation Front party) have felt strongly that we need (to) change our presidential system to a parliamentary system that would then not have these constraints for successive terms,” the former rebel said.

“I support the idea that the people have the right to elect the candidate, or not,” he said, calling it “direct democracy,” before going on. “Now that (our party is) back in government, if those conditions permit, yes, I would run again for president. And if those conditions were not present, then yes, I would be fine serving as prime minister, and then running against for president (in another five years).”

Reforms to the Nicaraguan Constitution must be approved by two different National Assemblies and by at least two-thirds of the 92 deputies in the Assembly, a supermajority liberal lawmakers currently hold. Liberal lawmakers opened negotiations to reform the Constitution, including presidential reelection, in October 2007, but those were stalled after the municipal elections in November 2008.

When asked about reports that he was suffering from leukemia, Ortega, who, as his interviewer noted, looked quite well, said, “My mother lived to be 97 years old. And I just hope that I will be able to live long enough to contribute to this new stage of development of the revolution. … These are very exciting times.

See the full interview, in English, here.

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