The scene outside the U.S. Embassy last week illustrated fraying tensions in this capital where the Sandinista government has been maneuvering for reelection: Agitated pro-government youths hurled fireworks, rocks and eggs at the embassy grounds and shouted "Death to the Yankees! Death to the empire!"
The following day, a Sandinista mob surrounded a university campus where U.S. Ambassador Robert Callahan was attending a cultural festival, forcing him to flee with the help of riot police. The Sandinistas want Callahan's ouster, and went so far as to declare him persona non grata in a theatrical "popular assembly" held in front of the embassy Thursday evening.
The United States has been increasingly voicing concerns about the state of Nicaraguan democracy under President Daniel Ortega, and the opposition is complaining that the president is undermining Nicaragua's democracy in his quest to remain in power.
The reason? On Oct. 19, six Sandinistas on Nicaragua's Supreme Court scrapped a constitutional term limit, a move that would allow the president to run for office in 2011 elections. The seven opposition judges insist they were not consulted before the Sandinista jurists ruled.
The opposition magistrates -- including court president Manuel Martínez -- issued an official Supreme Court declaration Oct. 28 accusing the Sandinista judges of illegally conspiring against the country's democratic and institutional order.
The declaration said the Supreme Court does not have the authority to tinker with the constitution, a task which only the National Assembly is authorized to do.
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