Nicaragua opposition denounces detention of VP candidate

·2-min read
In this file photo taken on July 28, 2021 Berenice Quezada, Miss Nicaragua 2017 and vice-presidential candidate for the Alianza Ciudadana por la Libertad (ACXL) party, speaks during a rally with supporters in Managua

Nicaragua's main opposition alliance hit out at authorities on Wednesday after revealing its candidate for the vice presidency has been held under house arrest without any justification.

Former beauty queen Berenice Quezada "was told by judicial authorities and the public ministry that from now on she was under house arrest without access to telephone communications and with restricted movement," said the Citizen's Alliance for Liberty (CXL) on its Twitter account.

The CXL said the 27-year-old had been told she is "barred from running for public office" and must remain at her home in the capital Managua under police guard.

Quezada, who was Miss Nicaragua in 2017, was a surprise choice for running mate for the CXL's presidential candidate Oscar Sobalvarro.

The 68-year-old former right-wing guerrilla was only picked to run in November's election because five of the alliance's presidential hopefuls were amongst more than 30 opposition figures detained by authorities over the last two months.

They are accused of treason and threatening the country's sovereignty under a controversial law approved in December that has been widely denounced as a means of freezing out challengers and silencing opponents.

Critics have accused President Daniel Ortega's government of trying to prevent any meaningful opposition from standing in November's election.

Neither the police nor the public prosecutor's office have confirmed Quezada's detention.

It came hours after Ortega supporters filed a complaint against her for an "implicit call to violence and hatred," and demanded that she be prevented from standing in the election.

When enrolling on Monday for the election, Quezada vowed to campaign for the freedom of "political prisoners" and urged supporters to head out in droves to vote "as you did in the streets" in anti-government protests in 2018.

The brutal government repression of those protests left at least 328 people dead and 2,000 injured, according to rights groups.

"We need to show them on November 7 that Nicaragua does not want them in the country," Quezada had said of Ortega and his wife, Vice-President Rosario Murillo.

Ortega, in power since 2007, is standing for a fourth consecutive term and Murillo is once again his running mate.

The Supreme Electoral Council has until August 9 to either validate or reject the candidates proposed by parties and alliances standing in the elections.

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