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U.S. Says Irregularities Marred Nicaraguan Municipal Elections

Nicaragua’s municipal elections lacked transparency and were rife with irregularities and voter fraud, the U.S. State Department said today.

The Nov. 4 elections “failed to demonstrate a degree of transparency” and several reports of voter obstructionism were reported nationwide, Victoria Nuland, spokesperson for the U.S. State Department, said in an e-mailed statement.

“Irregularities observed on election day included citizens being denied the right to vote, a failure to respect the secrecy of citizens’ votes, and reported cases of voters being allowed to vote multiple times,” Nuland said in the statement. “These disturbing practices have marred multiple recent Nicaraguan elections.”

More than 75 percent of total votes cast were for the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front, which won 127 of 153 national municipalities, including the capital Managua, where candidate Daysi Torres received more than 83 percent of the vote, according to the Supreme Electoral Council.

The Sandinista party, headed by President Daniel Ortega, a former Marxist rebel, was also accused of voter fraud in the 2008 municipal elections, which resulted in violent clashes in Managua. The opposition Independent Liberal Party denounced the Supreme Electoral Council for obstructionism yesterday and claimed polling stations turned away voters on the grounds that they were not properly registered.

Only 57 percent of eligible voters cast ballots yesterday, according to the Supreme Electoral Council. Two people were killed in Ciudad Dario, about 60 miles north of Managua, due to an election-related incident, according to Managua-based newspaper La Prensa.

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