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Last Updated: Monday, 3 July 2006, 01:40 GMT 02:40 UK
Nicaragua candidate dies suddenly
Herty Lewites
Mr Lewites had split the vote of Sandinista supporters
A candidate in Nicaragua's forthcoming presidential elections, Herty Lewites, has died suddenly of a heart attack.

Mr Lewites, 65, a centre-left ex-mayor of Managua, had broken with ex-president Daniel Ortega's Sandinista Party and was third in a recent poll.

His candidacy had been expected to split the Sandinista vote and harm Mr Ortega's chances of regaining power.

A recent poll gave Mr Ortega a narrow lead over his main conservative rival ahead of the November vote.

Breakaway movement

Mr Lewite's party president Dora Maria Telle told the Associated Press news agency he had suffered from long-standing heart problems and had died at a hospital in the capital.

Mr Lewites lived in Mexico during the 1970s and studied business before returning to his native country after the Washington-backed Somoza regime was overthrown.

He became tourism minister when Mr Ortega came to power in the 1979 revolution.

The Soviet-backed regime defied the US throughout the 1980s. Washington funded the Contras' counter-revolution and also imposed an economic embargo on the country.

The party lost power in 1990.

Mr Lewites was thrown out of the Sandinistas after challenging Mr Ortega for the presidential nomination when he attempted to make a political comeback 10 years later.

He then formed the Sandinista Renovation Movement, attracting disaffected members of Mr Ortega's party.

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