Nicaragua's Sandinistas Consolidate Power With Military Reform

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Supporters of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) flutter flags of the party and Nicaraguan national flags, during the celebration of the 33rd anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution, at La Fe square in Managua on July 19, 2012. The revolution overthrew Anastasio Somoza (in office from 1965 to 1972 and from 1974 to 1979), the last member of the Somoza family to be President, ending a dynasty that had been in power since 1936. AFP PHOTO/ Hector RETAMAL (Photo credit should rea | AFP via Getty Images

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Nicaragua's congress has approved a military reform that allows President Daniel Ortega's military chief of staff to remain in his post indefinitely and lets the army take a larger role in the economy. It further concentrates power in hands of the longtime president and his allies.

Ortega helped lead the 1970s uprising against dictator Anastasio Somoza, and since returning to the presidency has engineered a series of legal changes allowing him to remain in power indefinitely. His opponents warn of a return to dictatorship.

Wednesday's vote on the military came a day after the congress controlled by Ortega's Sandinista party altered the constitution to erase presidential term limits and eliminate a requirement for a candidate to receive at least 35 percent of the vote in order to win presidential election.

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