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Daniel Ortega

Ortega adresses the UN General Assembly

Daniel Ortega Saavedra (born 1945) was President of Nicaragua from 1985 to 1990, during the Sandinista government, and is currently the leader of the Sandinista party. He came to power in July 1979 at the head of a revolutionary junta after the overthrow of the U.S.-backed Somoza dictatorship. In November 1984 he won the presidency with 63% of the vote in national elections rejected as fraudulent by the United States but upheld as free and fair by many other observers. The U.S. under the Reagan Administration supported anti-Sandinista Contra rebels operating out of Honduras and Costa Rica, and illegally mined Nicaragua's harbours in early 1984 (out of these events developed the Iran-Contra Affair and the Nicaragua v. United States judgement of the International Court of Justice).

Ortega was largely popular with the Nicaraguan people for most of his period of office, but his support declined over the years due to tiredness with the war with the rebels. As a result he was voted out of office in February 1990. He stood for election again in October 1996 and November 2001, and lost on both occasions. His loss in the 2001 election can be attributed to a number of factors: allegations of corruption made against him in relation to the last days of his government in the 1980s, allegations made by his stepdaughter that he sexually abused her when she was 11, and U.S. interference in the election campaign.

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