Police raided the home of Cristiana Chamorro, a journalist and would-be presidential candidate, on charges of money laundering.
Nicaraguan Police raided the home of opposition leader and potential presidential candidate Cristiana Chamorro, escalating a political fight ahead of this year’s election.
His brother Carlos Fernando Chamorro, director of independent news outlet Confidencial, confirmed Wednesday’s attack on Twitter and said his brother was ordered.
Social media and local television broadcast live images of police raids and neighborhoods at Chamorro’s home in Managua, the capital. Officials can be seen using force to release reporters arriving to cover the scene.
Nicaraguan prosecutors demanded that Chamorro be arrested for money laundering and other crimes, including a small account for misrepresentation, earlier this week.
The 67-year-old journalist, who is not a member of a political party, is considered a serious challenger to President Daniel Ortega in the November presidential election, even if he has not yet confirmed that he will seek a fourth term.
A judge in the capital Managua issued an arrest warrant, allowing a request from the attorney general, a statement from judicial authorities said.
The attorney general also formally requested on Tuesday the disqualification of Chamorro from holding public office for launching a criminal offense against him.
Chamorro has denied the allegations, calling them a “farce” aimed at preventing him from seeking the presidency. Chamorro or his representatives may not be immediately available for comment by the Reuters agency.
“Most of OPPOSITION believes it is a way to address all the most prominent opposition leaders, before this year’s presidential election, ”Al Jazeera’s Lucia Newman from Santiago, Chile, reported after the police raid .
“He is the third… to be a presidential candidate to be jailed,” Newman said, adding that “both of the opposition parties have now been declared illegal”.
Efforts to disqualify Chamorro from running have met with 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 violation of the rule of law and fundamental freedoms” was an “attack on democracy”.
– OAS (@OAS_official) June 2, 2021
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also told Twitter that preventing Chamorro from contesting “shows Ortega’s fear of free and fair elections.”
The United Nation’s human rights chief has accused the attorney general’s office of making false allegations against Ortega’s critics.
Chamorro recently emerged as a potential coalition candidate who could be able to rally a broken opposition to defeat Ortega in the Nov. 7 vote. On Tuesday, he announced that he would seek a nomination from the opposition.
He is the son of Violeta Chamorro, who became president of Nicaragua in the 1990 election, Ortega was ousted after his first term.