Nicaraguan military says will not suppress protests: AFP

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MANAGUA (Reuters) - The Nicaraguan military said it would not attempt to repress anti-government protests that have rocked the Central American nation since last month, news agency Agence France-Presse reported on Saturday.

“We don’t have a reason to repress” the protesters, Colonel Manuel Guevara, a military spokesman, told the news agency. “We think dialogue is the solution.”

Referencing the presence of soldiers in some cities, Guevara continued, “We reject manipulated information that makes it seem that we are repressing” the protests.

Nicaragua has been on edge since late last month, when President Daniel Ortega announced an overhaul of the nation’s welfare system, touching off deadly protests.

After a violent crackdown by police, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of the capital Managua to demand the resignation of Ortega, a former leftist guerrilla leader whom critics accuse of trying to build a family dictatorship.

On Friday, the United Nations human rights office said it had asked Nicaragua to let it enter the country to gather evidence about student deaths in the protests.

The U.N. has received information that at least 47 people - mostly students, along with two police officers and a journalist - were killed in the demonstrations, U.N. human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said.

Reporting by Julia Love and Oswaldo Rivas; Writing by Julia Love; Editing by Alistair Bell