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Supreme Court Rejects Request to Cancel State of Emergency

February 7, 1987

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) _ The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a petition asking it to strike down the state of emergency decree that canceled most rights guaranteed by the country’s new constitution.

The court said the petition filed by four political parties was inappropriate because new rules will be written setting out guidelines for seeking to have a law declared unconstitutional.

In the petition, the parties said President Daniel Ortega lacked authority under the constitution adopted last month to reimpose the state of emergency.

They asked the court to declare the emergency decree illegal under an article of the constitution that makes it the supreme law of the land and states all other laws ″are subordinate to it.″

The petition was signed by members of the Independent Liberal Party, the Communist Party, the Popular Social Christian Party and Socialist Party. All are leftist organizations normally allied with the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front, which controls the Supreme Court.

Ortega ordered a national state of emergency on Jan. 9, shortly after he signed the new constitution that guarantees rights to privacy, free speech, free assembly and free press. Those and other rights were suspended under the emergency decree.

Nicaragua has been under a state of emergency through decrees issued in 1982 and again in 1985, but it was automatically nullified by the new constitution.

Ortega said the emergency decrees were necessary because of the campaign by U.S.-backed rebels to overthrow the Sandinistas, in power since July 1979.

The new constitution provides that a national emergency law be discussed in the next National Assembly meeting, scheduled to begin at the end of the month.

Meanwhile, seven policians proposed that the government create a national peace commission to negotiate a cease-fire with the rebels. They also urged the government to cancel the state of emergency, grant a general amnesty and schedule new elections.

Eli Altamirano, secretary-general of the Communist Party, told a news conference, ″The current circumstances in Nicaragua only present two alternatives: Save the country or permit it to sink under the fire of a U.S. invasion.″

Signing the proposal were leaders of the Liberal Independent, Popular Social Christian, Social Christian, Nicaraguan Conservative, Liberal Constitutionalist, Social Democrat and Communist parties.

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