Nicaragua’s opposition calls for impeachment of President Ortega

January 8, 2010

A group of 17 opposition lawmakers headed by congressman Eduardo Montealegre is calling for the impeachment of President Daniel Ortega, following a weekend presidential decree that´s being blasted as another brazen violation of Nicaragua´s Constitution.

In his first official act of the year, President Ortega, dressed in the presidential sash, issued a decree Saturday to extend the terms of more than a dozen top judges, magistrates and other key government officials, who are scheduled to be replaced within the next six months, according to constitutionally established term limits.

Unable to muster the votes needed in the National Assembly to appoint his people to key posts, Ortega ordered by decree the extension of the current magistrates of the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE), the Supreme Court, the Comptroller General´s Office, the Superintendent of Banks, and the Ombudsman´s Office, which had already been cleared out last year.

Ortega justified his decree by saying it would contribute to the stability of the country. He blamed the National Assembly of trying to “create chaos” and “paralyze” his government by not proposing candidates or holding elections to replace the officials. The president said if the National Assembly won´t elect new officials, then it´s his obligation to take actions to prevent chaos.

The opposition, however, claims Ortega´s the one creating chaos by overstepping his constitutional boundaries to get what he wants and maintain his quota of power. Montealegre´s voting bloc says Ortega has gone too far this time, and needs to be removed from office and brought to justice for violating the Constitution.

“According to the Constitution, President Ortega can be declared incapacitated to continue governing the country (now that he´s shown) he can´t even follow the most basic attribution of a chief of state, which is to comply with the Constitution and the laws,” the opposition “Nicaraguan Democratic Bloc” proclaimed in a statement Sunday evening.

According to the law, all five CSE magistrates and their supplements are scheduled to be replaced in two shifts on Feb. 14 and June 1; all eight comptrollers are to be replaced by Feb. 14; and the terms of four Supreme Court magistrates, including Ortega´s main advocate Rafael Solís, ends April 11.

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