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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06MANAGUA23
2006-01-05 23:19:00
CONFIDENTIAL
Embassy Managua
Cable title:  

BOLANOS CONFIDENT HE CAN DEMAND KEY LEGISLATION

Tags:   PGOV  ECON  KDEM  SOCI  OAS  NU 
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VZCZCXRO3796
PP RUEHLMC
DE RUEHMU #0023/01 0052319
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 052319Z JAN 06
FM AMEMBASSY MANAGUA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 4834
INFO RUEHZA/WHA CENTRAL AMERICAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MANAGUA 000023 

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR WHA/CEN

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/04/2016
TAGS: PGOV ECON KDEM SOCI OAS NU
SUBJECT: BOLANOS CONFIDENT HE CAN DEMAND KEY LEGISLATION
FOR ASSEMBLY LEADERSHIP DEAL

REF: MANAGUA 3246 AND PREVIOUS

Classified By: Ambassador Paul Trivelli for reasons 1.4 (b and d)



1. (C) Summary: In a recent breakfast meeting on January 4,
Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolanos told the Ambassador that
he could obtain agreement on key legislation during
negotiations for the upcoming elections for the National
Assembly's Executive Board ("Junta Directiva"). Such
legislation would include implementing measures for the CAFTA
and IMF agreements, approval of the MANPADS destruction, a
new Penal Code, and the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)
compact. Bolanos also discussed his options to replace
recently deceased Secretary of the Presidency Ernesto Leal,
the need to encourage an OAS observer mission for the
impending regional and national elections, and the positions
of the presidential candidates and the likely outcome of the
regional elections in March on the Atlantic Coast. End
Summary.

PRESIDENT CLAIMS TO CONTROL SWING VOTE IN ASSEMBLY
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2. (C) During a January 4 breakfast with the Ambassador,
President Bolanos reported he would meet on Friday, Saturday
and Sunday with representatives of each of the caucuses in
the National Assembly to broker the January 9 elections for
the new Junta Directiva. Bolanos said he would insist on an
inclusive Junta with representation from each caucus and the
election of a president from one of the minority caucuses
(i.e., not the PLC or FSLN candidate). The President stated
that he would accept a PLC deputy for the First Secretary
position as long as the candidate would agree not to promote
an amnesty bill for convicted ex-President and PLC leader
Arnoldo Aleman.



3. (C) Bolanos declared that he would simultaneously
negotiate an agreement to pass key legislation of interest to
the executive, including implementing laws for the CAFTA and
IMF agreements, approval of the new Penal Code, approval for
the government to destroy Nicaragua's remaining official
stock of MANPADS, and MCA-related legislation. Bolanos told
the Ambassador that he could kill an FSLN-sponsored law
regarding appointments for National Police commissioners that
would force the President to select a strongly FSLN
affiliated subcommissioner to head the Police instead of a
candidate more favorable to his administration. He reported
that the current head of the Police, Commissioner Edwin
Cordero, will be offered the position of mayoral candidate
for Leon for the FSLN following the expiration of his term.



4. (C) Comment: Bolanos seemed quite confident that he could
demand such concessions in exchange for the votes of the
twelve National Assembly deputies that he "controls." While
it is true that twelve deputies do not belong to the PLC or

FSLN caucuses, and neither the PLC nor the FSLN can win the
elections without support from these deputies or each other,
the President does not "control" all of them. Some deputies
from the Nicaraguan Liberal Alliance (ALN-PC), Azul y Blanco
and Camino Cristiano caucuses have told Emboffs that they are
willing to work with Bolanos on the Junta elections, but
others, such as Orlando Tardencilla and Jaime Morales Carazo
(Azul y Blanco), are openly critical of Bolanos and unlikely
to follow his lead. The six deputies in the ALN-PC are loyal
to Liberal presidential candidate Eduardo Montealegre and
will not obey Bolanos without Montealegre's approval. As has
happened during other (rare) periods of relative political
calm in Nicaragua, President Bolanos may be tempted to
overplay his hand and demand too much from politicians who
regard him as a lame duck. End Comment.

LEAL'S DEATH CREATES VOID AT PRESIDENCY
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



5. (C) The sudden death of Secretary of the Presidency
Ernesto Leal on December 26 created a vacuum at the
Presidency that has temporarily been filled by the
President's private secretary, Ariel Montoya. Bolanos told
the Ambassador that he was considering replacing Leal with
Finance Minister Mario Arana or Vice Minister of Environment
Leonardo "Nayo" Somarriba. The President favored Somarriba,
however, saying he needed Arana to stay in his current
position and maintain continuity in the government's economic
program. Bolanos claimed he would make his decision that day
and announce the new Secretary on Friday. (Comment: Bolanos,
in fact, announced Somarriba's appointment later the same
day, saying Somarriba enjoys the President's "full
confidence." Somarriba is a quiet, somewhat squeamish
functionary in a low-profile position who will now be forced
to do some heavy political lifting. End Comment.)

BOLANOS WILL CONTINUE TO PUSH FOR OAS OBSERVATION TEAM
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -



6. (C) President Bolanos and the Ambassador agreed that the
OAS should send a technical level electoral observation
mission "at once" to oversee preparations for the Atlantic
Coast regional elections in March and national elections in
November. The President stated he would contact OAS
Secretary General Insulza again to urge him to send a team.
Bolanos also presented the idea of the OAS sponsoring a "team
of notables" from Latin America and Europe to monitor the
election periodically during the year.

BOLANOS MOVING CLOSER TO MONTEALEGRE
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7. (C) In contrast to past impressions that Bolanos favored
presidential candidate Jose Antonio Alvarado, Bolanos seemed
to agree in this encounter that Eduardo Montealegre is the
most promising candidate. Bolanos stated that pressure from
three sources -- himself, the Embassy, and the political
financiers -- could force the Liberals to forge an alliance
beyond the influence of corrupt PLC leader Arnoldo Aleman.
The President claimed he planned to call other Central
American presidents to pass the message to financiers in
their countries not to give money to the PLC. Bolanos and
legal advisor Frank Arana, who also attended the meeting,
believe that a "residual PLC" will nevertheless survive,
winning perhaps 7 to 15 deputies. The President predicted
that Sandinista dissident candidate Herty Lewites will drop
his presidential bid due to lack of party organization and
make a deal with FSLN leader Daniel Ortega for that party's
vice presidential slot.



8. (C) Regarding the Atlantic Coast elections, Bolanos stated
that the local indigenous party Yatama is very strong in the
Northern Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) and would likely
win there, while the PLC controls the most votes in the
Southern Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAS), where that party
will come out ahead. The President acknowledged that
Montealegre has managed to gain a following on the Coast and
will win some votes, but Alvarado and Lewites are very weak.
TRIVELLI