(Al Jazeera) Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is on track to win a fourth consecutive term in office, preliminary results show, in an election preceded by a months-long crackdown on opposition figures and candidates.
Ortega’s victory was all but assured before citizens cast their votes on Sunday, with only a handful of little-known candidates standing against him and the opposition challengers considered his biggest would-be threats remaining in prison.
Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council said early on Monday that with roughly half the ballots counted, a preliminary tally gave Ortega about 75 percent of votes in the presidential election, which had been widely condemned as illegitimate by rights groups, several Western powers and regional organisations.
The council put participation at about 65 percent of the 4.5 million Nicaraguans eligible to vote. The opposition had called on Nicaraguans to stay at home in protest of what they said was a tainted electoral process.
Late on Sunday night, some of Ortega’s followers began to celebrate on the streets of the capital Managua even before the final result.
“Yes we did it, Daniel, Daniel!” they shouted in several neighbourhoods as fireworks went off, according to the AFP news agency.
Protests against Ortega, meanwhile, took place in exiled Nicaraguan communities in Costa Rica, Spain, the US, and Guatemala.
Shortly before the early results were released, US President Joe Biden accused Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, of orchestrating a “pantomime election that was neither free nor fair”.