Latin America & Caribbean

Nicaragua's Ortega reappears in public after absence

A TV screen shows live coverage of Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega (centre) and his wife Rosario Murillo welcoming home Nicaragua's newly-appointed Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes
The re-appearance in public of President Ortega in public was shown on live television

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega appeared in public on Monday after a 10-day absence which had led to rumours about his health.

Mr Ortega, 68, greeted newly appointed Nicaraguan Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes at the airport in the capital, Managua.

Referring to the rumours, he told the cardinal he had "carried out the miracle of resurrecting me because a lot people thought I was dead".

Mr Ortega, a former Sandinista rebel, is serving his third term in office.

Rumour mill

There had been feverish speculation about his state of health after he began missing official ceremonies after 21 February.

On 26 February, he had been expected to attend an event commemorating the 1978 indigenous uprising in Monimbo, in which his brother was killed.

Daniel Ortega is expected to run for a third consecutive term in 2016

The following day, Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa cancelled a planned trip to Nicaragua, citing scheduling problems on the side of the Nicaraguan government.

Some rumours circulated on social media saying Mr Ortega had health problems and was receiving treatment in Cuba, while others said he had died days previously on the Communist-run island.

Mr Ortega led a successful revolution against the dictatorship of the Somoza family, who ruled Nicaragua for four decades.

He headed the revolutionary committee that led the country until 1984, after which he was elected president for the 1985-1990 term.

His Sandinista party lost the 1990 elections but Mr Ortega was re-elected in January 2007.

In 2011 he won another term and is expected to run for re-election in 2016 after the National Assembly passed a bill scrapping limits to the number of terms presidents can serve.

The opposition say the changes are a threat to democracy in the impoverished Central American nation.

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