Nicaragua's Ortega says early elections would create instability

Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega arrives for an event to mark the 39th anniversary of the Sandinista victory over President Somoza in Managua, Nicaragua July 19, 2018. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas

(Reuters) - Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega said on Monday that holding early elections would create instability in the country, after almost 300 people were killed in weeks of clashes stemming from a government clampdown on protests.

Nicaragua’s main business lobby and other groups have urged Ortega to bring forward the country’s next elections, set for 2021, to help it emerge from the crisis.

In a rare interview broadcast on Monday, Ortega told Fox News that he and his wife, Rosario Murillo, who is the country’s vice president, were not trying to start a dynasty and that the next government would be chosen in 2021.

“To move up the elections would create instability, insecurity and make things worse,” he said.

Ortega first took power in 1979 after Sandinista rebels overthrew the Somoza dictatorship. He returned to office in 2007.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in April over a new law that raised worker and employer social security contributions. Ortega scrapped the cuts, but the violent repression of dissent sparked wider protests.

Reporting by Mexico City Newsroom; Editing by Peter Cooney