- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Powell goodbye

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell said goodbye to State Department employees yesterday and thanked them for the successes achieved during his four memorable years as America’s chief diplomat.

Hundreds of personnel gave Mr. Powell an ovation lasting almost a minute when he appeared for the farewell ceremony in the department’s main lobby.

They applauded for about 10 more minutes as he shook hands after concluding his remarks.

With his wife, Alma, by his side, Mr. Powell spoke to the gathering from a staircase that leads to a mezzanine.

“You were my troops,” Mr. Powell said, evoking memories of the 35-year military career that preceded his foray into diplomacy.

Mr. Powell will remain in office until his successor, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, is confirmed by the Senate and she is sworn in.

Crisis averted

Nicaragua’s ambassador is relieved that his government stopped a power grab engineered by the leader of the country’s former Marxist rulers.

“A full-scale constitutional crisis was averted in no small measure due to the fact that the world was watching,” Ambassador Salvador Stadthagen said yesterday.

Mr. Stadthagen urged foreign leaders to continue monitoring an agreement reached between President Enrique Bolanos and Daniel Ortega, the leader of the Sandinista Party, which tried to strip the president of much of his power.

“Now that the dialogue is starting, it is absolutely critical for the world to continue watching,” the ambassador said. “This is an ambitious agenda, and we will need the world community’s support.”

The agreement was reached last week after Jorge Chediek, an envoy from the United Nations, intervened. The deal was overseen by Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, who gained international respect in the 1980s by standing up to the Sandinistas’ authoritarian regime.

The agreement basically stops the National Assembly, controlled by opponents of Mr. Bolanos, from unilaterally imposing constitutional changes, and it gives the president the option of accepting or rejecting any proposed limits to his authority.

“This accord is a real testament to the leadership of President Bolanos and the spirit of reconciliation in Nicaragua,” the ambassador said. “We have to congratulate and thank Nicaraguan civil society and the international community, particularly the United Nations, for their constructive role in getting us to this point.”

The dispute grew out of Mr. Bolanos’ anti-corruption campaign that ensnared formerPresident Arnoldo Aleman. Aleman was sentenced to 15 years in prison and later released by the Sandinista-controlled Supreme Court.

He is under a comfortable house arrest at his ranch outside the capital, Managua. Aleman enlisted the aid of his Liberal party supporters in the legislature to join the Sandinistas and form a majority of lawmakers in opposition to Mr. Bolanos.

Diplomatic fete

More than 180 ambassadors have been invited to attend inaugural ceremonies at the Capitol today.

Afterward, they will gather for lunch at Blair House, the presidential guest quarters across the street from the White House. They can view the inaugural parade from reserved seats in front of Blair House and attend an inaugural ball at Union Station tonight.

Ex-envoy blocked

Kyrgyzstan’s authoritarian government successfully blocked a former ambassador to the United States from running for parliament and cleared the way for the president’s daughter to campaign instead.

Roza Otunbayeva served here from 1992 to 1994 and then was appointed ambassador to Britain. Because of her diplomatic service outside the former Soviet republic, she failed to meet a residency requirement to run for office. Kyrgyzstan requires parliamentary candidates to have lived in the country for at least five years.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail jmorrison@washingtontimes.com.

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