June 10, 2006

Ortega says US aims to block return

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (Reuters) - Sandinista leader Daniel
Ortega told regional observers on Friday the U.S. and
Nicaraguan governments were working together to try to
disqualify him from November's presidential election.

Ortega, a former president and leader of Nicaragua's
leftist Sandinista revolution, is seeking to return to power
and has clashed in recent months with the U.S. envoy and the
country's main right-wing parties.

"We see a coordinated action between the United States
government and the government of President (Enrique) Bolanos,
both of whom want to disqualify the Sandinistas," Ortega said
after a meeting with Organization of American States observers.

A spokeswoman at the U.S. Embassy in Managua declined to
comment on Ortega's remarks. Nicaraguan government officials
were not immediately available for comment.

U.S. Ambassador Paul Trivelli has repeatedly criticized
Ortega, who many think could return to power and end the 16
years of pro-Washington government that followed his 1990
defeat. In April, Trivelli met with right-wing parties to
discuss forming an alliance to oppose Ortega in the November 5

The United States has a controversial history of
involvement in Nicaragua, although Trivelli said he was merely
concerned with promoting democracy in the Central American

Recent polls have shown solid support for the Sandinistas,
which in the 1980s led a Soviet- and Cuban-backed government
that battled U.S.-funded Contra rebels.

"The United States government will have to understand that
it is Nicaraguans that will decide who our national authorities
will be," Ortega added.

He is making his fourth bid to regain the presidency. Many
voters say they are tired of U.S.-backed administrations that
have failed to raise living standards.