Police Agree to Guard Violent Protests Ahead of Nicaragua Election

There was a heavy law enforcement presence throughout Managua, the Nicaraguan capital, Wednesday ahead of the disputed election Sunday in which incumbent Daniel Ortega is expected to clinch his fifth term in office.

Near the Valle de Fatima shopping center, police stood guard as two groups of Sandinista partisans stood to one side, one with flags, one without.

Vigilantes and Sandinista cadres marched near a harbor.

Ortega ran as a candidate for the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front and has threatened to send riot police into the streets to take control of the demonstrations if they continue.

Vigilante groups active in other countries, including the Philippines, also plan to protest, some in military uniforms or uniformed in camouflage, the local news site Noticias Televisa reported.

Daniel Ortega en la marcha de la altitud norte de Managua para el fin de semana en sus municipios — Noticias Televisa (@televisiaca) October 24, 2018

Nicaragua has for decades been one of Central America’s poorest countries, but Ortega led the communist-backed Sandinista National Liberation Front to victory in 1979, ending 50 years of U.S. domination and years of civil war.

But tensions rose in Nicaragua’s capital after the administration took steps in recent years to increase state control over the private sector and to punish media outlets it deemed to be critical of the government.

Ortega, who has been in power since 1979, is likely to run again in 2020 and critics fear he plans to run to continue his rule.

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