OAS approves creation of group to address crisis in Nicaragua

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - The Organization of American States (OAS) on Thursday approved the creation of a working group to seek a peaceful solution to the violent protests that have roiled Nicaragua since April, leaving more than 300 people dead.

The Central American country is suffering one of the worst political crises of its history after months of protests that were sparked by proposed cuts to the pension system but quickly expanded to encompass a range of concerns.

Protesters are also demanding the resignation of President Daniel Ortega, a former guerrilla leader whom critics accuse of tampering with elections and seeking to install a “family dictatorship.”

The OAS resolution, approved on Thursday in an extraordinary session of the group’s permanent council, was presented jointly by Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the United States, Paraguay and Peru, the Mexican foreign ministry said in a statement.

“The formation of this group addresses the need to contribute to the process of national dialogue in this country through ... collaborative work with different regional and international actors,” the Mexican foreign ministry said.

Denis Moncada, Nicaragua’s foreign minister, criticized the move as an “interventionist political maneuver” that came as Nicaragua was recovering from the protests, according to the Associated Press.

The commission will be formed by a representative from each regional group and other member states of the OAS. It will present a monthly report to the permanent board about its progress.

Ortega said in an interview with CNN en Espanol broadcast on Monday that his government would seek to “strengthen” dialogue with the opposition with the support of international organizations such as the United Nations.

Protests were continuing on Thursday in some parts of the country, though the demonstrations are shrinking as more leaders of the “civil resistance” seek to organize in private.

Reporting by Lizbeth Diaz; Writing by Julia Love; Editing by Sandra Maler