UN to debate Nicaragua unrest after human rights team expelled

The United Nations Security Council will debate the situation in Nicaragua for the first time since a deadly political crisis erupted in the Central American nation earlier this year. 

In what is seen as a push by the United States after taking over the Security Council presidency for September, the UN debate was scheduled for Wednesday despite opposition from some members. 

“How many people have to die before it becomes a matter of peace and security?” US envoy to the UN Nikki Haley asked the Security Council on Tuesday. 

“It’s why the US felt it was very important to have this meeting on Nicaragua. Because we don’t want another Syria. We don’t want another Venezuela.” 

The country has been in turmoil for the last five months with nearly 300 people killed and more than 2,000 wounded in the government’s violent repression of the protests, including alleged torture and extrajudicial killings. 

The Security Council’s decision to debate Nicaragua came after President Daniel Ortega ordered the expulsion of a United Nations human rights team last week.

The ejection was seen as Ortega’s response to a critical report published by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights blaming his government for the violent repression of opposition protests.

Peru and the UK supported the US initiative at the Security Council, but several members expressed opposition, including permanent members China and Rusia, along with Bolivia. Kuwait and Kazakhstan also stated reservations. 

Continuing crisis 

Protests in Nicaragua demanding reform to the social security system that began in April this year quickly escalated into calls for Ortega to step down and announce an early election.

More than 1,200 people were arrested or have disappeared, according to the UN, with some charged with serious crimes, including terrorism.

Ortega – whose fourth term as Nicaraguan president since 2007 has often been dubbed “autocratic” by his opponents – has rejected the demand for early elections.

“The opposition has told me that I have to leave … I think it would be a very serious precedent for the country,” Ortega said in an interview in July, adding the country would slip into anarchy if he quits.

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