martes, 6 de noviembre de 2012

Chilean president reshuffles cabinet ahead of polls

President Sebastian Piñera Echenique made changes to his cabinet on 5 November as expected, to allow two outgoing members to run for the presidency in 2013, Europa Press reported, citing Chilean press reports. Laws barred Piñera from running for a second consecutive term. He thus relieved the ministers of Public Works and Defence, Laurence Golborne Riveros and Andrés Allamand Zavala of their posts so they could become candidates in general elections due in November 2013. Golborne was replaced in Public Works by the former undersecretary of state for public works Loreto Silva Rojas, while Rodrigo Hinzpeter Kirberg resigned as interior minister to become the new defence minister, the agency reported, citing the daily La Tercera. Golborne was said to be considering becoming an independent candidate, while Allamand would likely compete in a primary vote with other aspiring candidates of the Right. Recent polls on voting intentions reportedly left both considerably behind the former socialist president and present head of UN Women, Michelle Bachelet Jeria, who has yet to state her intentions. The Interior Minister's post was given to the former government spokesman Andrés Chadwick Piñera; Cecilia Pérez Jara became government spokeswoman. Other ministers kept their posts. Primaries to elect a conservative candidate were expected to take place in July 2013, EFE reported.

Sandinistas win Nicaraguan local polls

Nicaragua's ruling National Liberation Sandinista Front (FSLN), the party of President Daniel Ortega, won most city governments in the municipal elections of 4 November, amid the skepticism of some observers and post-election clashes in five municipalities. The United Alliance (Alianza Unida, AU) led by the Sandinistas was officially declared to have won 134 of 153 municipal governments including 14 of 17 departmental capitals and the capital Managua, Europa Press reported on 6 November citing reports of official declarations. The officialist mayoress of Managua Daysi Torres retained her post, reportedly winning some 230,000 votes more than her challenger Alfredo Gutiérrez. The head of the Supreme Electoral Council (CSE) Roberto Rivas reportedly gave 57.7 per cent as the participation rate of eligible voters and 75.69 per cent as the share of votes won by AU. The opposition Independent Liberal Party (PLI) won 12 municipal governments and Yatama, an indigenist party allied to the government, three, EFE reported. The agency added that three were killed in clashes in five districts in northern and western Guatemala; unspecified opposition offices were destroyed in one municipality, it reported. Not all observers were as delighted with the results as the government: the civic association Ética y Transparencia, which seeks strictly democratic institutions in Nicaragua, deplored the polls as a "farse" and alleged a "structure" parallel to the state had handled ballots unsupervised, EFE reported. The US State Department observed in turn that the elections had not been transparent enough to assure that "the process faithfully reflected the will of the Nicaraguan people." Its spokeswoman Victoria Nuland cited on 5 November reported irregularities including individuals being prevented from voting and "cases of voters being allowed to vote multiple times." The Electoral Observation Mission (MOE) sent by the Organization of American States suggested specific improvements to the electoral process, but stated it had observed a generally "civic atmsophere," Europa Press reported.