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New Leader in Contra Alliance Says Goal Is Nicaraguan Unity

February 24, 1987|United Press International

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica — Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Jr., newly elected to the three-man leadership of the U.S-backed Nicaraguan rebels' umbrella organization, said Monday that his main goal is to forge unity "among all Nicaraguans."

The assembly of the United Nicaraguan Opposition, a political alliance of the main contras groups, elected Chamorro to replace rebel leader Adolfo Calero, who resigned from the leadership trio last Monday in Miami.

Calero stayed on as top civilian chief of the Nicaraguan Democratic Force, the largest contra band, which has 10,000 to 15,000 fighters who operate from base camps along the Honduran border.

Unanimous Choice

The assembly voted 24 to 4 to accept Calero's resignation and unanimously elected Chamorro to replace him. The other two assembly leaders are banker Arturo Cruz and businessman Alfonso Robelo.

"My main goal will be to try to shape a real unity among all Nicaraguans and to form the resistance in a single organization so that we can have the opportunity to present a strong democratic look that leads us to Nicaragua's freedom," Chamorro said in an interview.

"Together with Cruz and Robelo, we will immediately dedicate ourselves to making an in-depth study of the problems the opposition is encountering and seek the solutions that will reorient plans leading to the re-establishment of democracy in Nicaragua," Chamorro said.

Last month, the moderate Cruz had threatened to resign his leadership post, citing what he called Calero's attempt to take control of the rebel organization and squeeze out both Cruz and Robelo, also a moderate.

U.S. Pressure

Cruz's departure could have triggered a cutoff of U.S. aid, so Calero resigned under pressure from the Reagan Administration.

Chamorro is the eldest son of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro Sr., the late owner of La Prensa, Nicaragua's opposition newspaper. The elder Chamorro was assassinated in 1978 during the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza, overthrown in 1979 in a revolution spearheaded by the Marxist-led Sandinistas who now govern Nicaragua.

The younger Chamorro left Nicaragua for exile here in November, 1984, after a dispute over the Sandinistas' censorship of La Prensa. The newspaper was closed by the government last June.

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