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Nicaragua withdrew from the Organization of American States (OAS) this week following criticism from the regional bloc over the re-election of autocratic President Daniel Ortega last year, Al Jazeera reported Monday.

Nicaraguan Foreign Minister Denis Moncada announced an immediate break from the organization and the closure of its offices in the capital, Managua. He said the country “will not take part in any of the entities of this diabolical instrument of evil called the OAS.”

The withdrawal came months after the OAS questioned the fairness of the November general elections that saw Ortega win a fourth consecutive term amid a months-long crackdown on opposition figures.

Venezuela – which withdrew from the OAS in 2020 – hailed the move as “courageous” and called the body “an instrument of US imperialism.”

Meanwhile, the organization noted that the withdrawal will not take effect until next year.

Tensions between the OAS and Nicaragua have been simmering for years.

In 2016, the organization tried unsuccessfully to mediate a dispute between Ortega and the opposition after the latter accused the president of fraud in that year’s elections.

A year later, the OAS and Nicaragua agreed to amend the electoral system. But in 2018, the deal collapsed after Ortega launched a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests which resulted in the deaths of 355 people, hundreds arrested and thousands exiled.

Ortega has consistently refused to allow OAS members into Nicaragua to assess the violence, claiming that they were interfering in domestic affairs.

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