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Thursday, 1 November, 2001, 18:43 GMT
Nicaragua campaign draws to close
Daniel Ortego
Daniel Ortega lost in 1990 but wants to return to power
By the BBC's Nick Miles in Managua

Former Sandinista rebel leader Daniel Ortega and Enrique Bolaņos of the governing Constitutionalist Liberal Party have held their final election rallies.

Voting in Nicaragua's presidential elections takes place on Sunday. The latest opinion polls show the two candidates neck and neck.

"Ours is the way of love," bellows a tired but determined-looking Mr Ortega to the party faithful in the city of Masaya, 30 kilometers (18 miles) east of the capital Managua.

We should not elect someone as president who has had links with international terrorism

Enrique Bolanos
Presidential candidate

The response is enthusiastic. His supporters know that this is the best chance the Sandinista Party has of recapturing the presidency since losing power in 1990.

Mr Ortega led the armed insurrection in Nicaragua that toppled the long-time dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979, only then to fight a US-backed counter-insurgency force, the Contras.

Long associated with green army fatigues and his Marxist, vehemently anti-American rhetoric, Ortega has now softened his line. He sports a shirt matching his campaign poster colour - lilac pink.

Enrique Bolanos hopes to draw undecided voters
He says he is a friend of the free market and wants a closer relationship with the US.

Meanwhile, at the nearby Liberal Party rally, Mr Bolanos reiterates his distrust of the reformed Mr Ortega.

"We should not elect someone as president who has had links with international terrorism," he says, referring to Mr Ortega's close friendship with Fidel Castro of Cuba and members of the armed Basque separatist group ETA in Spain.

With the polls showing the two candidates in a dead heat, Mr Bolanos will be hoping these last verbal blows at his opponent will draw some of the 12% of voters who are yet undecided.

See also:

03 Sep 01 | Americas
Timeline: Nicaragua
27 Jul 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Nicaragua
28 Nov 00 | Americas
Sandinista electoral wins confirmed
03 Nov 01 | Media reports
Guide to the Nicaraguan elections
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