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Chamorro Replaces U.S. Ambassador

January 13, 1993

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) _ President Violeta Chamorro is naming a new ambassador to Washington, replacing an envoy accused of passing information to U.S. political opponent Sen. Jesse Helms.

Ambassador Ernesto Palazio will be succeeded in the post by Roberto Mayorga, Nicaragua’s ambassador to the United Nations, presidential aide Antonio Lacayo said Tuesday.

Lacayo said ″new faces″ are needed to work with the incoming Clinton administration. But government sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Palazio was suspected of passing information to Helms.

Helms, the ultra-conservative Republican from North Carolina, has accused Mrs. Chamorro of cozying up to the leftist Sandinistas. Helms was instrumental last year in withholding $104 million in much-needed U.S. aid.

The sources also criticized Palazio as being to close to right-wing groups in the United States and Nicaragua who support Chamorro’s opponents in the National Opposition Coalition.

The conservative coalition brought Mrs. Chamorro to power in 1990 elections. But over the weekend it announced that it was deserting her because of her policy of reconciliation with the Sandinistas.

The nation remains bitterly divided almost three years after Mrs. Chamorro defeated the Sandinistas at the polls, and 2 1/2 years after U.S.-backed Contra rebels disarmed.

Mrs. Chamorro kept many Sandinista officials on after taking office and the Sandinistas remain the largest political party, exercising control over the army and police - conditions that prompoted Helms’ criticism.

Despite the recent release of the bulk of the frozen American aid, Nicaragua is struggling with an economy ravaged by eight years of civil war and three additional years of political turmoil.

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