TITLE:CHAMORRO'S RIGHT TO REPLACE ARMY CHIEF CHALLENGED (09/03/93)
CHAMORRO'S RIGHT TO REPLACE ARMY CHIEF CHALLENGED
(9/3 VOA correspondent's report) (360)
(With Lsi503 of 09/03/93)
By Bill Rodgers
SAN JOSE -- Nicaraguan President Violeta Chamorro's announcement that she
intends to replace armed forces head Humberto Ortega brought a quick
challenge from the military, who announced she lacks the authority do it
The army's challenge is in response to Chamorro's Sept. 2 announcement.
Mrs. Chamorro's statement drew support in Washington.
"We applaud the bold steps toward reasserting civilian control over the
military and intelligence service that Nicaraguan President Violeta
Chamorro announced in her speech to the nation earlier today," Secretary of
State Warren Christopher said in a statement issued late Sept. 2.
"President Chamorro's speech should give a strong impetus to the discussions
among the Nicaraguan Government, the National Opposition Union, and the
Sandinista Front scheduled to begin Monday. These talks -- aimed at
achieving peace and stability through national reconciliation -- deserve
our enthusiastic support. We hope that the Nicaraguan people's commitment
to democracy will thereby be strengthened."
Nicaragua's Military Council says President Chamorro has no right to name a
new army chief under the current law. The Council, following a late
meeting later in the day, said the law sets no term limitations for top
military officers and added that only the National Assembly can change this
The Council's declarations came only a few hours after president Chamorro
announced she wants to name a new armed forces chief next year. She also
said she wants to change the name of the Sandinista Popular Army to one
that more closely reflects the army's national character.
The president spoke during a military ceremony marking the 14th anniversary
of the Sandinista army's founding. General ortega, who served as military
commander under the former leftist Sandinista government, has told
reporters his departure will depend on the terms of a military reform law,
which the government must sbumit to the National Assembly.
The Council acknowledged that President Chamorro could set term limits for
military officers when she submits the reform law to the National Assembly.
A top Council member, General Joaquin Cuadra, denied the Council's action
represented an act of insubordination.
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