(AP) – Nicaragua’s two main opposition groups announced the formation of a coalition Friday aimed at winning the 2021 elections and ending President Daniel Ortega’s rule.
Representatives of the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy and Blue and White National Unity said they hope to “reinvigorate the fight” and “rebuild the country.”
The groups are not among Nicaragua’s political parties. Both formed after civil unrest exploded in April 2018.
Economist Juan Sebastián Chamorro, a member of the Civic Alliance, said they would invite all of the country’s political parties that oppose the government and want democracy and freedom to join the coalition.
The coalition also plans to reach out to groups of government employees – there are some 120,000 – such as doctors and police.
Lesther Alemán, a university student who because famous for standing up to Ortega during the first dialogue session in May 2018, said the coalition would present an alternative of hope. It would maintain the rallying cry “Ortega has to go” that started nearly two years earlier, Aleman said.
The union would not be an “electioneering coalition,” but rather a “transitional political alliance that will work to return freedom, justice and total inclusion to the country,” Alemán said.
The announcement came at a time when the government’s repression has become seemingly more selective. Human rights groups have reported extrajudicial killings of government opposition members in rural areas and police harassment of some youth leaders who had been released from prison.
The Ortega administration did not immediately respond to the announcement.
Ortega returned to power in 2007 and won re-election in 2011 and 2016. His Sandinista party controls the courts and the legislature.
Political analyst Eliseo Núñez commended the announcement, but said electoral reform was necessary before the elections. The electoral court, which is loyal to Ortega, needs to be replaced and some 2,000 Sandinista paramilitaries need to be disarmed.
“If not, they will be the most violent elections in the history of Nicaragua and probably of Latin America,” he said.
The government’s violent crackdown on marches in opposition to social security reforms in April 2018 set off months of clashes that left at least 328 dead and more than 2,000 wounded, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The commission estimates that some 88,000 Nicaraguans are living in exile outside the country due to the unrest.