Police raid the home of journalist and presidential candidate Christiana Chamorro on charges of money laundering.
Nicaragua Police have raided the home of opposition leader and potential presidential candidate Christiana Chamorro, sparking a political battle ahead of the election later this year.
His brother, Carlos Fernando Chamorro, director of independent news outlet Confidential, confirmed the raid on Twitter on Wednesday and said his sister has been ordered into custody.
Social media and local television broadcast live photos of police entering and surrounding Chamorro’s home in the capital Managua. Officers can be seen using force to drive out journalists who had arrived to cover the scene.
Nicaraguan prosecutors earlier this week sought Chamorro’s arrest for money laundering and other crimes, including a reduced citation for misrepresentation.
The 67-year-old journalist, who does not belong to a political party, is seen as a serious challenger to President Daniel Ortega in November’s presidential elections, although he has not confirmed that he will seek a fourth term.
A judge in the capital Managua granted the attorney general’s request and issued an arrest order, a statement from judicial officials said.
The attorney general on Tuesday also sought to formally disqualify Chamorro from public office because of the criminal investigation launched against him.
Chamorro denies the allegations, calling them a “spectacle”, intended to prevent him from seeking the presidency. Neither Chamorro nor his representatives could be immediately reached for comment by the Reuters news agency.
“Most of Protest Lucia Newman, of Al Jazeera from Santiago, Chile, after the police raid, said it was a way to try to eliminate all major opposition leaders ahead of this year’s presidential elections.
“She will be the third … the presidential candidate who has been imprisoned,” Newman said, adding that “two opposition parties have now been declared illegal”.
Attempts to disqualify Chamorro from running have faced criticism from the United States, the Organization of American States (OAS) and others.
In a statement on Wednesday, the OAS said the “process of systematic and repeated violations of the rule of law and fundamental freedoms” was an “attack on democracy”.
— OAS (@OAS_official) 2 June 2021
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said on Twitter that barring Chamorro from competing “reflects Ortega’s fear of a free and fair election”.
The UN human rights chief has accused the attorney general’s office of making false allegations against Ortega’s critics.
Chamorro had recently emerged as a potential unity candidate who might be able to rally a fractured opposition to defeat Ortega in the November 7 vote. On Tuesday, she announced that she would seek nomination from the opposition.
She is the daughter of Violet Chamorro, who became president of Nicaragua in the 1990 election, ousting Ortega after her first term in power.
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