Nicaragua parliament approves controversial law

·1-min read
Nicaragua's parliament in session on October 15 to debate the legislation. The new law, which was sponsored by President Daniel Ortega, bars "those who ask for, celebrate and applaud the imposition of sanctions against the Nicaraguan state"

Nicaragua's parliament approved on Monday a controversial law critics say is aimed at preventing opposition politicians from standing in next year's general election.

The law, which was sponsored by President Daniel Ortega, bars "those who ask for, celebrate and applaud the imposition of sanctions against the Nicaraguan state" -- a clear illusion to the opposition.

Former left-wing rebel leader Ortega is expected to stand for a potential fourth mandate in November's general election.

The bill was passed by 70 votes to 15 against and four abstentions in the parliament that is dominated by Ortega's party.

The right-wing Constitutionalist Liberal Party said it voted against the bill because it violates citizens' rights guaranteed by the constitution.

The law also bars those who lead or finance a coup d'etat, alter the constitutional order, incite foreign interference, or use financing from foreign powers to plan terrorist or destabilizing acts.

The government has accused the opposition of being putschists and terrorists over 2018 protests that left 300 dead after security forces violently put down the demonstrations.

It accuses the US -- which has slapped sanctions on Ortega, members of his family and his top officials for corruption and human rights abuses -- of having orchestrated the protests.

"Those who betray the homeland must be tried," said parliament president Gustavo Porras.

"Those who want to speak badly of the homeland, let them run to wherever they want, especially to those examples of democracy we're seeing now in the empire," he added in reference to US President Donald Trump's contesting his election defeat to president-elect Joe Biden.

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