Nicaraguan court blocks law
by International Herald Tribune
A Nicaraguan appeals court Wednesday blocked a recently approved law designed to keep President Daniel Ortega from creating citizen councils as part of his government.
Critics say the councils are similar to groups used by Ortega to spy on opponents during the 1980s, when U.S.-backed Contra rebels fought to overthrow his first run as Nicaragua's leader. Ortega was forced out by an electoral defeat in 1990, but returned to the presidency in January after winning elections a year ago.
Under a measure passed by lawmakers, the councils would be allowed to exist just like any other politically active group, but could not be directly linked to the presidency.
Ortega vetoed the law earlier, but opposition legislators gathered enough votes Tuesday for an override.
Members of the citizen councils argued the bill is unconstitutional, however, and won an injunction against its publication, which would have made it law.
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Appeals court president Gerardo Rodriguez said the tribunal instructed the president of Congress to hold off on publishing the measure until it can be reviewed by the Supreme Court.
Opposition lawmakers walked out of Congress on Wednesday to protest what they called an illegal injunction.
"Appealing (the bill's) constitutionality can't stop the law," said Eduardo Montealegre, who lost last year's election to Ortega.
Ortega said late Tuesday that he would create the councils Nov. 30, no matter what Congress decided.
"They are making a huge mistake in denying the right of the people to organize," he said. "It's absurd."