Nicaraguan president announces agreement with Sandinista leader to alleviate political crisis

Nicaragua's president late Monday night announced he had reached an agreement with leftist Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega to end an escalating political spat that had threatened to throw the country into crisis.

In a national address, President Enrique Bolanos said that after seven hours of meetings with Ortega, the Sandinista leader consented to work together with the government to reach a lasting agreement so that constitutional reforms weakening presidential powers approved by an opposition-dominated legislature will not take affect at least until January 2007, when Bolanos leaves office.

The Sandinista leader also promised to urge the legislature to approve necessary laws lifting some already imposed restrictions on presidential powers and freeing up an estimated US$300 million (250 million) in international aid and donations that had been blocked from reaching the Bolanos government.

The Monday agreements were reached according to proposals on settling the political crisis proposed in a letter sent last week by the secretary-general of the Washington-based Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, Bolanos said.

The president lost the support of most of the lawmakers from his Constitutionalist Liberal Party when he led an anti-corruption campaign that prompted the conviction on fraud charges of his predecessor, Arnoldo Aleman, the Liberal Party's most-powerful member.

Aleman, who served as president from 1997 to 2002, has since been released from house arrest on a sort of personal recognizance, but Bolanos' administration has said it will appeal that decision.

In response to Bolanos anti-corruption campaign, the former president, and most of his party's lawmakers, have allied with Ortega and the Sandinistas, reports the AP. I.L.

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