- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Crisis in Nicaragua

Top Nicaraguan officials loyal to embattled President Enrique Bolanos are scheduled in Washington today to complain of “political prosecution” by Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega and other members of the country’s legislature.

Led by Interior Minister Julio Vega, the officials plan to file a complaint with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights at the Organization of American States, which has been trying to mediate the constitutional crisis between the president and his enemies in the National Assembly.

Mr. Ortega, the Marxist rebel who once ruled Nicaragua, and Arnoldo Aleman, the former president convicted on corruption charges, have joined forces to strip members of Mr. Bolanos’ government of their constitutional immunity. Members of the Sandinista National Liberation Front and Aleman’s Liberal Constitutional Party control the legislature and the courts.

The Nicaraguan Embassy complained that Cabinet members without immunity from prosecution could be “tried by the Sandinista-controlled courts on specious charges of campaign finance violations.”

“This act of stripping the ministers and other high-ranking officials of their immunity is widely viewed as a practice run for the National Assembly stripping President Bolanos of his constitutional immunity and attempting to remove him from office,” the embassy said.

The embassy warned of a “dangerous threat to democracy in Nicaragua arising from the … underlying pact between Daniel Ortega and Arnoldo Aleman designed to hollow out the independence of governmental entities in Nicaragua and put them under their personal control as party bosses.”

Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary-general of the OAS, last week complained that the legislature has damaged efforts to negotiate a solution to the constitutional showdown.

“This decision acts against the possibility of resolving the current crisis and prolongs a situation of uncertainty that is increasingly causing harm to Nicaraguan society and to its democratic consolidation,” he said.

In addition to the interior minister, the officials scheduled in Washington include: Education Minister Miguel Angel Garcia; Environment Minister Arturo Harding; Mario Salvo, vice minister of agriculture and forestry; Fausto Carcabelos, vice minister of public finance; Leonardo Somarriba, vice minister of environment; and Vilma Rosa Leon York, vice minister of the Federal Depository Agency.

They plan to hold a 12:30 p.m. press conference at the embassy at 1627 New Hampshire Ave. NW and meet this evening with invited guests of the Inter-American Dialogue.

New in town

A new Greek ambassador arrived in Washington this week, just in time to host visits from top Cabinet ministers.

Ambassador Alexandros Mallias, a career diplomat since 1976, most recently served as director of the Southeastern Europe Department at the Foreign Ministry. He is a former ambassador to Albania.

Mr. Mallias replaces Ambassador George Savvaides, who returned to the Foreign Ministry after three years in Washington.

The new ambassador hosted Greek Development Minister Dimitri Sioufas and Finance Minister George Alogoskoufis.

Baroness speaks

The deputy speaker of the British House of Lords today will discuss human rights conditions in Sudan and in part of Azerbaijan occupied by Armenian forces.

Baroness Caroline Cox, a member of several international human rights groups, will hold a 4 p.m. press conference at the National Press Club.

Sudan has been ravaged by decades of civil war. Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic-Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan, has been occupied by Armenian forces since the early 1990s.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected] washingtontimes.com.

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