Nicaragua: Talks between Ortega and protesters broken off | News | DW | 24.05.2018
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Nicaragua: Talks between Ortega and protesters broken off

At least 76 people have died in recent weeks in clashes between security forces and anti-government protesters. Four days of talks mediated by the Catholic Church have failed to find a solution to the crisis.

Talks in Nicaragua between the government of President Daniel Ortega and protesters were suspended on Wednesday after both sides failed to make progress toward ending weeks of deadly unrest.

The Catholic Church, which has been mediating the process, said the suspension of talks would be indefinite. "Given that on this fourth day of dialogue no consensus has been achieved, the bishops are suspending the plenary dialogue," Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes said.

Read more: UN calls for independent investigation in Nicaragua after more student deaths

Opposition groups have called for Ortega to step down after clashes between security forces and people protesting against changes to the country's welfare system turned violent.

Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes talks with reporters at the end of the third day of the national dialogue in Managua, Nicaragua, Monday, May 21, 2018. (picture-alliance/AP Photo/A. Zuniga)

Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes announced the suspension of talks

At least 76 demonstrators have died and some 900 have been in injured in the violence, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The government has only recognized 18 deaths.

Read more: Nicaragua establishes truth commission after deadly anti-government protests

Call for fresh elections

The Inter-American Commission also said it had seen evidence that the government tortured protesters, made arbitrary arrests and has censored the media.

The US-based Organization of American States called for early elections to solve the political crisis. "Anyone who thinks there is a solution for Nicaragua other than an electoral one is seriously wrong," said OAS head Luis Almagro.

Ortega's position in power has become less secure in recent weeks. The military has said it would not engage in repression against protesters and national businesses have distanced themselves from the government in response to the violence.

Ortega, a former guerrilla fighter, has been president since 2007 and his current term is set to expire in 2022.

Ortega first took power in 1979 after his leftist Sandinista rebels deposed the Somoza dictatorship. Ortega’s government then fought a war against US-backed "Contras." He was voted out in 1990 before his eventual return to office.

A masked protester takes part in a demonstration against President Daniel Ortega's government in Managua, Nicaragua May 18, 2018. (Reuters/O. Rivas)

Protesters have demanded President David Ortega resign

amp/rc (AP, AFP, dpa)

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