World / Politics

Thousands stage anti-Ortega protest in Managua, demand release of hundreds

AFP-JIJI

Thousands of demonstrators marched Sunday through Nicaragua’s capital Managua to demand the resignation of President Daniel Ortega and the liberation of hundreds detained during months of deadly government repression.

Whole families — including young children and the elderly — took part in the “Rescuing the Homeland” march, many sounding noisy vuvuzelas, waving Nicaraguan flags and shouting slogans as they made their way through the streets.

Months of turmoil in the Central American country have left more than 300 people dead, according to rights groups.

The march, called by opposition groups, began in the northeast of the capital, monitored by hundreds of riot police.

Some of the marchers shouted “murderers” as they passed in front of police cordons blocking streets.

“We want Ortega to leave because he has done so much damage to Nicaragua,” one of the demonstrators, Javier Franco, 49, told AFP.

“He has to go, whether he wants to or not. We want the elections to be brought forward,” said Mario Jiminez, another demonstrator.

Nicaragua’s descent into chaos was triggered on April 18 when relatively small protests against now-scrapped social security reforms were met with a government crackdown, backed by armed paramilitaries.

Catholic Church-brokered peace talks broke down in June after Ortega rejected a key opposition demand to step down and bring forward presidential elections.