San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Meet the new boss... same as the old boss

The decade-old power-sharing “pacto” between President Daniel Ortega and opposition party boss Arnoldo Alemán struck again this week, reelecting the same congressional directorate in an illegal combo vote.

Again demonstrating their resistance to any form of political renewal in Nicaragua, the pacto and their minority allies – lawmakers from the Nicaraguan Unity Bloc (BUN) and the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN) – voted to reelect the same directorate that last year proved incapable of electing the 25 magistrates whose terms expired last year, setting off one of Nicaragua’s worst democratic crises in decades.

Of the seven directorate seats, only one chair – congressman Alejandro Ruiz, who made headlines last year by missing virtually every important vote of 2010 – was replaced by Liberal dissident and closet Sandinista ally Ana Julia Balladares.

Lawmaker Miriam Argüello protested the Sandinistas’ proposal to elect the directorate in an illegal combo vote (according to law, the directorate members must be elected individually), and resigned from her honorary post as head of congressional council of elders that oversaw Sunday’s proceedings. Other opposition lawmakers also protested the vote as illegal.

Once again, the directorate excludes opposition lawmakers from Eduardo Montealegre’s congressional bloc and the left-wing Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS) – the only two legislative groups that have demonstrated any consistency in their opposition to government abuses.

Rene Núñez, who last year was accused of illegally printing a new “Sandinista” Constitution, was rewarded with reelection as legislative president, assuring Ortega’s continued grip over the National Assembly.

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