Ortega eyes third term as Nicaragua votes

Ortega eyes third term as Nicaragua votes Managua: President Daniel Ortega appeared poised on Sunday for re-election to a controversial third term as polls opened in Nicaragua pitting the former Sandinista rebel leader against a weakened opposition.

Election monitors from the Organization of American States region bloc indicated that early voting was calm. Small groups of anti-Ortega activists burned tires, but no major incidents of violence were reported.

At least 15 protesters and two policemen were injured yesterday when supporters of Ortega and his main rival Fabio Gadea clashed in the town of Sebaco, 55 miles (90 kilometers) from the capital Managua.

Ortega, who won a second five-year term in 2006, has presided over a period of strong economic growth in Central America's largest and poorest nation, but opponents fear his lengthening tenure is becoming increasingly dictatorial.

Tension has risen in Nicaragua since a Supreme Court ruling in November 2009 cleared the way for the 65-year-old former revolutionary to seek re-election to a third term.

Consecutive re-elections were supposedly banned. Ortega, who was first elected president of the nation of almost six million back in 1984, has been a central figure since leading a Marxist guerrilla movement to oust dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979.

US president Ronald Reagan accused the Sandinista National Liberation Front of fostering revolutionary movements in the region and Ortega was voted out of power in 1990 after a civil war against US-backed Contra rebels.