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Lines Hundreds Deep At Polling Places in Nicaragua

February 25, 1990

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) _ Voters waited in lines more than 100 deep Sunday morning to cast their ballots in an election seen as a plebiscite on President Daniel Ortega and 10 years of leftist Sandinista rule.

Throughout the capital of Managua, thousands of people were waiting to vote long before polls opened at 7 a.m. ″I came at 4 a.m. because I wanted to be first,′ said Ana Leona Carrero, first of 130 people on line at a polling station in a poor western Managua neighborhood.

Voting was orderly and peaceful throughout the city, and voters appeared to be in a serious mood.

″Lots of times we don’t have enough food for three meals a day,″ said a woman whose husband is an unemployed bricklayer. She said there were eight people in her household and all would vote for opposition presidential candidate Violeta Barrios de Chamorro and her United National Opposition.

Socorro Neira Padilla said she would vote for the government; her daughter had been wounded in the war against U.S.-supported Contra guerrillas. ″I don’t want any more war. Imagine if your beautiful, intelligent, educated 19- year-old daughter was a cripple,″ she said.

Polling place officials gave detailed instructions to each voter; voters then went behind cardboard booths to mark their ballots. A sheet from a yellow roll of toilet paper was used to clean the voters’ fingers before they were dipped in idelible ink to make sure people couldn’t vote twice.

No violence was reported in the countryside, although Ortega, applauded as he voted at 7 a.m., said he was in constant contact with military forces monitoring movements of U.S.-supported Contra rebels in the mountains.

″Monday we’re going to have chicken soup,″ with Mrs. Chamorro as the chicken, said Marvin Idiarquerz, a Sandinista supporters in Jalapa, 130 miles north of Managua on the border with Honduras.

Troops were patrolling near Jalapa, which is only a few miles from the Contra base camps at Yamales in Honduras, but no incidents were reported.

The balloting was being closely monitored by hundreds of observers, including former President Jimmy Carter and representatives of the Organization of American States and the United Nations.

Nicaragua’s Supreme Electoral Council is expected to begin announcing results at about 9 p.m. (10 p.m. EST) and will continue through the night with periodic announcements.

Significant results may not be available until Monday afternoon.

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