Celebrations on the streets of Managua after Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega easily locked in a fourth consecutive term after suppressing political rivals, in an election some called a farce as Washington warned it would press for a "return to democracy."
Nicaragua's Supreme Electoral Council said that with roughly half the ballots counted, a preliminary tally gave Ortega's Sandinista alliance about 75% of votes.
But Western and many Latin American nations expressed deep concern about the fairness of the vote as Ortega detained opponents and business leaders leading up to the election, canceled rival parties, and criminalized dissent.
Exiled Nicaraguans living in Costa Rica blasted the results.
EXILED NICARAGUAN IN COSTA RICA, YADER VASQUEZ:"We are repudiating the electoral farce, the electoral circus in Nicaragua. We ask our relatives in Nicaragua, the families who are here, and the people in other places to protest against a government that has committed crimes against humanity against our children, against Nicaragua, violating the human rights of the Nicaraguans."
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States was ready to use a range of tools, including possible sanctions, visa restrictions and coordinated actions against those it said were complicit in supporting the Nicaraguan government's quote, "undemocratic acts."
A statement by all 27 EU members accused Ortega of "systematic incarceration, harassment and intimidation" of opponents, journalists and activists.
Cuba, Venezuela and Russia, meanwhile, all offered him their backing.