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Nicaraguan Elections Causes Protest

November 2, 2000

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) _ Army troops and police forces held control of a coastal city in northeastern Nicaragua on Wednesday to keep a lid on demonstrations by Indians protesting their exclusion from upcoming municipal elections.

A week of confrontations between Indians from the Yatama region and police has left at least one person dead, 12 others wounded and 30 others detained, the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights said Wednesday.

The conflicts erupted in the city of Puerto Cabezas, 220 miles northeast of the capital of Managua on the Caribbean coast. They were provoked by a decision from the nation’s Supreme Electoral Council that the Indians could not participate in Sunday’s municipal elections because they missed the deadline for registering candidates.

On Monday, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets against Indians who had threatened to take over a national police station if police didn’t release seven members of their group who had been detained in the wake of disturbances Sunday and Monday.

One man, identified as Roberto Lopez, 46, was found dead Wednesday from an apparent beating in the wake of vandalism at the headquarters of the ruling Liberal Constitutionalist Party, the newspaper La Prensa reported. Police denied any responsibility.

Also Wednesday, anti-riot police guarded public buildings and evicted a group of rebels from radio station Miskut.

Meanwhile, a group of observers from the Organization of American States worked to pacify tensions ahead of Sunday’s elections.

A council of Indian elders said they were satisfied with a ruling by the electoral council that the group could participate in next year’s national elections.

But Yatama’s top leader, Brooklin Rivera, said the organization would not give up its fight to participate in Sunday’s races.

Update hourly