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Belize Comes Under Heavy Criticism After Abstaining to Vote on OAS Resolution on Nicaragua

The international community is condemning the actions of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega as the Organization of American States passed a resolution against the 75-year-old leader. Ortega is being accused of deteriorating the country’s political climate and human rights after he arrested several opposition leaders. The belief is that he is eliminating his political adversaries to secure another term in office. The OAS resolution calls for those arrested to be released and for a free and fair election. In the vote on the resolution among OAS members, Belize abstained on voting which in turn attracted criticism from the US Embassy Charge d affairs Keith Gilges. Senior Reporter Hipolito Novelo reports.

Political turmoil continues in Nicaragua as its president, Daniel Ortega, remains under fire from the international community. Ortega with total control of the country’s law enforcement has arrested several opposition leaders, with the aim, many say, to be elected for a fourth term. The Organization of the American States (OAS) on Tuesday sounded the alarm and described the situation as the deterioration of the political climate and human rights in that country. 

Sir Ronald Sanders, Chair, Permanent Council, OAS

Sir Ronald Sanders, Chair, Permanent Council, OAS: “The Ambassador of Nicaragua has asked for a vote on the resolution on the resolution that is before us so that is what we are voting on. That is what he’s asked for, that is what I have put to you and so I’m asking that we vote on the resolution. I assume we are voting on this resolution to say whether we are for it, whether we are against it or whether we are abstaining from it.”

 The OAS’s permanent council adopted the resolution to “unequivocally condemn the arrest, harassment and arbitrary restrictions placed on presidential candidates, political parties and independent media and to call for the immediate release of presidential candidates and all political prisoners.” The resolution was supported by 27 countries, rejected by two- Nicaragua and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines while five countries abstained including Belize. Belize’s abstention comes after this statement on June 10 was made. In the statement, Belize expresses deep concern over eh recent actions taken by the Government of Nicaragua against important opposition leaders in that country. Belize urged their immediate release and the restitution of their political rights. But the US Charge of Affairs Kieth Gilges criticized belize’s decision to abstain, tweeting quote “Disappointing to see Belize did not support the joint OAS resolution to hold Nicaragua accountable for the deteriorating human rights situation in that country, and hope that Belize will work with CARICOM and SICA partners to urge Ortega and Murillo to change course”. Belize’s ambassador to CARICOM, Lawrence Sylvestre responded saying (quote) ““Perhaps it would be more persuasive if we conduct our diplomacy a little more discretely and refrain from berating each other in the conduct of our public diplomacy.” (unquote)