Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega's embattled government will eventually "fall", the country's awarding-winning novelist Sergio Ramirez, the target of an arrest warrant issued by Managua, said Tuesday.
"Ortega is apparently very strong but the events of 2018 were like a shot to the knee," Ramirez said during an interview with AFP in Madrid. In April 2018, massive street protests started that eventually led to the deaths of some 300 people.
"He can run a bit longer, but he will fall," added 78-year-old Ramirez, who in 2017 won the most prestigious literary award in the Spanish-speaking world, the Premio Cervantes.
State prosecutors in Nicaragua last week ordered the arrest of the author, accusing him of inciting hatred and trying to "destabilise" the country through his works.
Dozens of influential Nicaraguans have already been detained on similar charges as part of a crackdown on critics of President Ortega ahead of November elections.
Ramirez, who left Nicaragua in June, called Ortega "a dictator".
"Nicaragua is a dictatorship with him and his wife at the helm," he added.
In power since 2007, Ortega, 75, is standing for a fourth consecutive term with his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, once again as his running mate.
- Ortega's 'autocratic tendencies' -
His government faces sanctions from the United States and the European Union, which accuse him of humans rights violations and the repression of opposition figures.
For his part, Ortega accuses the opposition of trying to overthrow him with the support of the United States.
Ramirez, who now lives in Costa Rica, said he saw "no possibility" that he would return to Nicaragua "for the moment".
"The repressive system in Nicaragua is deeply rooted in state structures," he added.
Ortega's regime would have "to disappear for me to feel safe... in Nicaragua", he added.
Ramirez served as an official in the leftist Sandinista government that came to power in Nicaragua 1979 and was even vice president under Ortega during his first term from 1985 to 1990.
But he broke away from the Ortega-led Sandinista Party in 1995 in protest at what he said were Ortega's "autocratic tendencies".
During his literary, his work has included the celebrated novel "Divine Punishment", and Ramirez was also the winner of the Alfaguara Prize in 1998 for "Margarita, How Beautiful the Sea".
The Nicaraguan government has already accused some 34 political opponents, including seven presidential candidates, of plotting against the state, in a law approved by parliament in December.
With only two months to go until the November presidential election, Nicaraguan judicial authorities have begun proceedings against 20 of those political opponents, including five presidential candidates.