National strike paralyzes Nicaragua in bid to step up pressure on Ortega

A man stands guard at the "Oriental" market in Managua, during a 24-hour nationwide general strike called by the opposition in Nicaragua on July 13, 2018. (AFP)

Shops were shuttered and public transport grounded in Managua on Friday as part of a 24-hour general strike to heap pressure on President Daniel Ortega after months of unrest.

More than 300 deaths have been reported in Nicaragua since April when anti-government protests rung out across the country. The wave of violence in the country is the worst the Central American nation has seen since the end of its civil war in 1990.

Ortega, 72, has dominated Nicaraguan politics for decades. After the leftist Sandinistas toppled dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979, Ortega led the country until 1990 before returning to power at the ballot box in 2006 for the first of three consecutive terms.

Critics say Ortega has imposed a corrupt, authoritarian regime in the impoverished nation of 6 million people.

Though Ortega's term does not end until 2021, mounting deaths and international condemnation have pushed him to discuss early elections next year and an overhaul of the Sandinista-controlled electoral council.

(Source: Reuters)

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