Nicaragua's former vice president wins candidacy for presidential elections

Nicaragua's governing party has nominated former Vice President Jose Rizo as its presidential candidate, despite likely opposition from Washington since he is a friend of a former president convicted of corruption.

Rizo won the Constitutionalist Liberal Party nomination late Friday with 478 votes of the 750 cast, beating out four others, party spokesman Leonel Teller said Saturday.

The party will officially swear-in Rizo as its candidate for the November elections during a ceremony Sunday.

Rizo is a friend of former President Arnoldo Aleman, the Liberal Party leader, who is serving a 20-year sentence for fraud and money laundering at home because of his poor health.

Aleman continues to direct party affairs, and many said he would have a major influence in the party's candidate selection process as he did ahead of the 2001 election.

U.S. Ambassador to Nicaragua Paul Trivelli recently said Aleman and former president Daniel Ortega both represent anti-democratic tendencies, and that the United States, a major supplier of aid, would not support any candidate selected by Aleman, who served from 1997-2001.

"We will never give our approval, never will look well upon a candidate of Aleman's, his family, his leaders or someone designated by him," said Trivelli in an interview with the magazine Confidential.

Rizo stepped down as vice president last year to seek the nomination. At that time, he acknowledged that he had been a "vice president without functions or budget" because of his differences with President Enrique Bolanos, whose anti-corruption campaign led to Aleman's conviction but alienated the majority of his own party's lawmakers, reports AP.

O.Ch.