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Supreme Court Rejects New Constitution; Congress Rejects Rejection

May 9, 1995

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) _ The country’s Supreme Court on Monday threw out a new constitution whose drafting had pitted congress against the president. Congressional leaders immediately rejected the court’s ruling.

The dispute is the latest chapter in a series of crises for Nicaragua’s feuding branches of government and political parties.

The Supreme Court ruled that a constitution published on Feb. 24 by the National Assembly was ``without value or legal effect″ _ a ruling that would vindicate President Violeta Chamorro’s refusal to accept the document.

But National Assembly President Luis Guzman said lawmakers ``reject and do not recognize that ruling,″ saying the court itself is ``incomplete and really does not exist.″

Guzman said the assembly will warn international organizations that any treaty signed by the government will be invalid if it is not approved by the assembly, as called for by the new constitution.

The bickering has created a logjam for new legislation, including a proposed sale of the state-run telephone company that the government hopes would finance payments for U.S. citizens whose properties were confiscated by the Sandinistas.

The United States says it will cut off aid if Nicaragua does not act soon on the payments.

The constitution approved by the National Assembly trims powers granted to the president in a constitution passed by the leftist Sandinistas in 1987.

It also imposes an anti-nepotism rule apparently designed to bar Chamorro’s son-in-law, Antonio Lacayo, from seeking the presidency in 1996.

Lacayo recently formed a new party that could back his candidacy.

Chamorro claimed that the constitution was invalid because only the president has the right to order such a document published.

Her refusal to accept the new document recently led several legislators to demand her impeachment.

Update hourly