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Public Papers - 1990

Statement by Press Secretary Fitzwater on the Presidential Election Monitoring Commission on Nicaragua

1990-02-07

Senator Richard Lugar, cochairman of the Presidential Election Monitoring Commission on Nicaragua, has announced this afternoon that the refusal by the Government of Nicaragua to issue visas to the entire group has prevented the Commission from carrying out its functions. We are disappointed that Sandinista stonewalling has brought this about. The President's bipartisan Commission reflects the full spectrum of opinion in the Congress on Nicaraguan issues and is universally regarded to be fair and impartial. It is hard to understand why a government that claims to be committed to a free and fair election would fear permitting such a group to observe the electoral campaign and balloting.

Nicaragua's refusal to permit official U.S. observers chosen by the President, in consultation with the Congress, follows a series of other actions which bring into question the Sandinista commitment. These include continued violence and coercion against opposition activists, imbalance in access to the media, and the use of state resources to help the Sandinista candidates. Politically motivated delays by the Sandinistas to disbursement of nonpartisan campaign funds to the opposition for such activities as voter registration and election monitoring have forced cancellation or curtailment of critical election-support programs. These funds, which were approved by the U.S. Congress, have the sole objective of facilitating the conduct of an open campaign in which the maximum number of Nicaraguans can participate, vote in a secret ballot, and have their vote honestly counted.

We believe that a free and fair election and Nicaraguan adherence to its other commitments under the Esquipulas process offer the possibility for a stable peace in Nicaragua and for improved relations with the United States. The United States Government has undertaken a policy for the last year, on a bipartisan basis, which has aimed at doing all that is possible to enhance that possibility. Sandinista actions thus far are troubling, but we continue to remain hopeful that the desire of the Nicaraguan people for full freedom will prevail.

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