Nicaruaguan government, opposition agree to resume talks

Mothers like Lilliam Ruiz have been leading the fight to release their children who were arrested during months of protests

Nicaragua's government and opposition agreed Wednesday to resume negotiations on ending the country's long-running political crisis after authorities pledged to release some protesters detained during anti-government rallies. The talks will resume Thursday, the government and the opposition Civic Alliance coalition said. Protests broke out almost 11 months ago, initially against a pension reform before morphing into general opposition to President Daniel Ortega's iron rule. A brutal crackdown by security services ensued and left 325 people dead and more than 700 detained between April and October, while thousands of Nicaraguans fled the country. The opposition accuses Ortega, a former Sandinista rebel leader, of running a corrupt, cruel and incompetent leftist dictatorship in the poor Central American country. Talks to end the crisis have been intermittent, and they resumed last month after the government released dozens of prisoners. These people have since complained to local press that they face police harassment in their homes. Then the peace talks were suspended for the last three days over opposition alliance demands that other political prisoners be freed and presidential elections brought forward from 2021 in order to return to the negotiating table. In the agreement reached Wednesday the government agreed to free a "considerable" number of prisoners, according to the joint statement. Earlier Wednesday eight women jailed in Nicaragua during the anti-government protests suspended their hunger strike, family members said. The eight began their action on February 27 at the start of the latest round of peace talks between Ortega's government and the opposition alliance.