Government - Civic Alliance dialogue resumes
News from Nicaragua | Friday, 22 March 2019 |
An opinion poll published by M&R Consultores published on 26 February indicated that over 90% of respondents want dialogue, peace and stability to guarantee the wellbeing of their families and communities.
With the violence and sharp economic downturn it is those who are most impoverished and marginalised who are suffering the most serious consequences. The largest group of people who lost their lives are young, poor, unemployed men; among the more than 120,000 people who have lost their only means of livelihood, the majority are unemployed or manual labourers with little formal education, and making a precarious living by selling goods in the streets.
These are also the people whose suffering would be further exacerbated by the economic strangulation of US and EU sanctions.
Against this background, negotiations started on 27 February involving representatives of the Government and the opposition Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy. Agreement was reached in the first three days on procedural issues at which point negotiations reached an impasse with the withdrawal of the Civic Alliance representatives.
However, after the intervention of the Papal Nuncio Stanislaw Sommertag, the process resumed on 20 March. The Government and the Civic Alliance have now announced agreement on the following stating their commitment to peace, justice, security, democracy, stability and progress.
• Strengthening of democracy and electoral reforms
• Strengthening of citizen rights and guarantees.
• The release, within a maximum period of 90 days, in accordance with the country’s legal system, of all persons imprisoned and detained in the context of the events that have occurred since April 18th, 2018.
• Truth, justice, reparations and non repetition
• Mechanisms for implementing the agreements.
• Once agreements have been reached, steps will be taken at the international level to obtain support for their implementation. In due course, and in agreement between the parties, a call will be made to the international community to suspend sanctions and facilitate Nicaragua's right to human, economic and social development, favouring the most vulnerable sectors of the population.
The Papal Nuncio Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag and a special delegate of the OAS general secretariat will witness and accompany the negotiation process. A formal invitation has been issued to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to accompany the process of releasing all persons imprisoned or detained.
The resumption of negotiations is a significant step forward and follows pressure by the Papal Nuncio on the opposition to participate responsibly and seriously in the talks.
It is also a significant step forward in that the Civic Alliance representatives to the talks have recognised the legitimacy of the Sandinista government – in sharp contrast to their demands of last year that the entire government should step down - and the agreed process is supported by Washington and the OAS.
Another important difference from previous attempts at negotiation is that the Nicaraguan Bishops’ Conference, discredited last year because of their bias in favour of the opposition, will not play any part in the talks.
The dialogue process facing enormous challenges given the depth of the polarisation which is greatly heightened by the belligerence of the Trump administration. This includes the threat of the sanctions under the terms of the Nica Act.
However, any other way forward is unthinkable in a country that suffered the anguish of tens of thousands of deaths and so much destruction in the wars of the 1970s and 1980s.
The peace and stability that the vast majority of the population desire will only be achieved through dialogue.