- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
This is a new tactic. Having failed to legally amend the Nicaraguan constitution to keep his political allies in office, President Daniel Ortega simply had the constitution reprinted with a few key changes while the country was away on vacation. The Christian Science Monitor reports:
Taking advantage of last week’s public holiday decreed by President Daniel Ortega, top Sandinista legislator Rene Núñez ordered the reprinting of the Nicaraguan Constitution while the rest of the country was on vacation. When opposition lawmakers returned to work this week, they discovered that the "new edition" of the Constitution mysteriously included an old law that many left for dead 20 years ago.
According to the resurrected second paragraph of Law 201, supreme court judges, electoral magistrates, and other public officials can remain in office beyond their term limits until new officials are appointed. The problem is, according to legal analysts, that the law was a "transitory" provision in the 1987 Constitution and expired more than two decades ago. That’s why it wasn’t included in the current Constitution, which was printed after the reforms of 1995.
Yet with elections happening next year, Mr. Ortega, who hopes to run despite a constitutional ban on presidential reelection, wants to keep his "dream team" government in office, even though the terms of 25 top officials have already expired.
Some opposition groups have gone as far as to call on citizens to burn copies of the new constitution in the streets. A better approach might be to print up their own editions, removing Ortega from power. It’s the Calvinball approach to constitutional reform.