Protesters in Nicaragua give their backing to bishops | News | DW | 29.07.2018
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Protesters in Nicaragua give their backing to bishops

Anti-government protesters are supporting the bishops as they come under pressure from President Daniel Ortega's government. Last week he claimed the bishops were siding with "coup-plotters" and "terrorists."

Thousands of protesters marched through the Nicaraguan capital on Saturday in support of the country's bishops and demanding President Daniel Ortega step down.

Nearby, supporters of Ortega's Sandinista government held a demonstration backing the president.

Both events went off without incident.

Read more: Nicaragua 2.0: Will history repeat itself?  

The anti-government rally included Catholics, evangelicals, and non-Christians, who have united in solidarity in the face of a three-month crackdown on anti-government protests.

Human rights groups say the violence has left at least 448 dead. Most of the deaths were caused by government security forces and paramilitary groups.

Nicaragua Managua Pro Regierungs Demonstration (Reuters/J. Cabrera)

Pro-government protesters and police held rival demonstrations in support of Ortega.

Near-daily protests are calling for Ortega to step down and move forward elections.

Ortega has been able to calm some of the unrest after crushing opposition centers in Managua and nearby Masaya earlier this month.

In April, the former rebel leader asked the Catholic Church to play a mediating role between his government and protesters, but then started accusing the bishops of siding with the opposition.

Last week, he accused bishops of backing the "coup-plotters" and "terrorists," which he said disqualified them from acting in negotiations. Only days later, he said he hoped the church would continue mediating and that the government was not against the bishops.

The bishops support the bringing forward of elections from 2021 to next year in order to defuse the crisis.

Ortega refuses to step down or hold early elections.

cw/rc (AFP, AP)

 

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