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Ortega in Tight Race as Nicaraguans Go to Polls

November 05, 2001|Reuters

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — Nicaraguans voted in presidential elections Sunday with Daniel Ortega, the Marxist revolutionary who battled U.S.-backed rebels in the 1980s, seeking a return to power 11 years after being voted out of office.

Going into the election, polls showed Ortega neck-and-neck with conservative businessman Enrique Bolanos of the ruling Liberal Party.

Ortega, 55, is bitterly opposed by business leaders and Washington but is supported by many poor Nicaraguans.

Turnout was heavy Sunday with long lines and confusion at many polling stations across the Central American nation of 5 million. There were complaints that many stations opened late and that voters were forced to wait several hours in tropical heat. There were no reports of violence.

Polls closed at 6 p.m., but first official results were not expected until today. Election observers predicted a close vote and a slow count that could spark unrest in a nation for years divided into pro- and anti-Sandinista camps.

Police and army troops, some in jungle camouflage gear, were dispersed across the country.

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