April 18, 2006

US urges Nicaraguans to vote against Cold War foe

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States urged Nicaraguans
on Tuesday to reject Daniel Ortega, a former U.S. Cold War
enemy who is favorite to win a November presidential election.

The State Department inserted itself into Nicaraguan
politics despite its practice of refraining from explicit
opposition to candidates in foreign elections.

"We urge the Nicaraguan people to continue to reject
discredited figures of the country's political past, as
represented by (ex-president Arnoldo) Aleman and former
dictator Daniel Ortega," State Department spokesman Sean
McCormack told reporters.

The Bush administration has accused the two men of
orchestrating a "creeping coup" against President Enrique
Bolanos, a U.S. ally whose government has investigated graft
during Aleman's rule.

On Monday U.S. Ambassador Paul Trivelli met Nicaraguan
politicians to forge an alliance that could oppose Ortega,
although he avoided naming in public the leftist who has lost
the last three presidential races.

The United States has long made known its disdain for
Ortega and Nicaraguans may fear a cutoff of American aid if
they elect him.

But, in a region wary of the superpower's perceived
interference in its backyard, Tuesday's call could spur
nationalist support for Ortega, whose Soviet- and Cuba-backed
Sandinistas fought U.S.-funded Contras in the 1980s.

In recent years, perceived U.S. opposition has served to
help campaigns of anti-American figures in Bolivia and El