Nicaragua's Ortega claims third-term electoral victory

Former Marxist guerrilla leader Daniel Ortega has won a third term in office, according to his wife and spokesperson early on Monday, after partial results gave him a strong lead in presidential polls.

“This is the victory of Christianity, socialism and solidarity,” said Rosario Murillo on a radio station sympathetic to Ortega’s Sandinista party, repeating his campaign slogan.

“Our promise is to keep building the common good.”

Ortega won 66% of six percent of votes counted, electoral authorities said shortly beforehand, in elections marred by irregularities.

Right-wing radio host Fabio Gadea won 26% of votes counted so far, the first results showed, as Ortega’s supporters let off fireworks and cheers on the streets of major cities.

Ortega (65) has presided over economic growth in Central America’s poorest nation with generous aid from his leftist ally, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, and by savvy deals with former foes in the church and business elite.

He also faced a fractured opposition in a vote marked by complaints of irregularities and “difficulties” to monitor the polling.

Tension has risen since a November 2009 Supreme Court ruling cleared the way for Ortega to seek a third term as president. Consecutive re-elections and third terms were supposedly banned.

To avoid a run-off, Ortega needed more than 40% of the vote, or at least 35 percent and a lead of more than five percentage points.—AFP

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