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Official says president has set deadline for constitutional changes

December 31, 2010 - NICARAGUA

To give broader legitimacy to his presidential campaign, President Daniel Ortega wants the law banning a second successive term stripped from the constitution. The election is expected in Nov 2011. Bayardo Arce, the president's chief economic adviser and a veteran Sandinista Front leader, said in September that the president would seek the 56 votes he needs in the National Assembly for the constitutional changes by Dec 31.

A Sandinista-controlled division of the Supreme Court ruled last year that the reelection ban doesn't apply to Ortega, who is already advertising his candidacy on billboards across the capital. But to eliminate doubt about whether his candidacy is legal, Sandinistas are moving to reform the constitution and strike the reelection ban altogether, analysts say. His opponents charge that the Sandinistas are buying the votes they need in the National Assembly. Ortega's critics suggest he is plotting to remain in power indefinitely in the manner of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Ortega, who was first named president after the Sandinista rebels toppled dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979, served until losing a reelection bid in 1990. He then lost three more presidential elections until finally winning in 2006. (

Constitution aside, Nicaragua's Ortega plans to stay (McClatchey/Times Dispatch 18 Sep 2010)

1970-1987: The contra war in Nicaragua ( 8 Sep 2006)

Nicaragua presidential race shaping up to be a bruiser (LA Times 20 Sep 2010)

Nicaragua wakes up to Daniel Ortega's new 'Sandinista Constitution' (CSM 21 Sep 2010)

Nicaragua's Sandinistas accused of paying for power (Miami Herald 25 Jun 2010)

Date written/update: 2010-12-31