Nicaragua opposition demands conditions for resuming talks

Demonstrators chant during a protest demanding the government release hundreds of protesters held in custody since 2018, in Managua, Nicaragua, Saturday, March 16, 2019. AP
Opposition delegates to talks on resolving Nicaragua\’s political standoff said Tuesday they will not return to the table until the government shows "signs of goodwill" on demands such as the full release of hundreds considered political prisoners.
Lawyer Azahalea Solis said opposition negotiators are ready to resume talking when conditions are right, but that\’s not the case right now. She added that the opposition remains committed to finding a solution nearly a year after protests erupted demanding President Daniel Ortega\’s exit from office.
About 160 people have been released to house arrest in recent weeks, but government opponents say there are at least 700 political prisoners and they should all be freed with their cases dismissed.
Authorities and the opposition traded mutual accusations of undermining the talks after protesters held a weekend anti-government rally and over 100 people were temporarily detained.
Ortega officials have accused demonstrations of being tantamount to "terrorism" and an attempted coup d\’etat, and the president has steadfastly refused to step down and allow early elections.
Solis said the opposition Civic Alliance has presented a five-point agenda for the talks: freeing the prisoners; electoral reform establishing "early, free, fair, transparent and observed elections"; justice for victims; international guarantors to ensure compliance; and government action on 18 formal recommendations from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
"The Alliance counts with the pressure of the citizenry for there to be a civic solution here, because citizens decided they want to be free of this dictatorial government through peaceful struggle," Solis said.
There was no immediate reaction from government officials.
At least 325 people were killed last year amid a security crackdown on the protests, according to the Inter-American Commission. Thousands more were wounded, arrested or fled into exile.

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