MANAGUA (Reuters) -Nicaragua’s government on Sunday said it had completed its withdrawal from the Organization of American States (OAS), a move the group swiftly decried as violating international norms and unable to go into effect for another year.
Nicaragua’s government also said it had closed the local OAS office and revoked the credentials of several OAS representatives as part of an “unwavering decision” to leave the organization.
Nicaragua began the process to leave the 35-member OAS in November, shortly after President Daniel Ortega’s election to a fourth consecutive term amid international concern – including from the OAS – over the vote’s fairness as Ortega detained opponents and criminalized dissent.
However, the OAS said Nicaragua’s rejection of the group could not go into effect until the end of 2023 given the country’s status as an active member.
“This is a violation of the most basic international norms … We demand that the Nicaraguan government respect the obligations that currently govern its relationship with the OAS and with every international organization of which Nicaragua is a part,” the OAS said in a statement.
The OAS also said that Nicaraguan officials had “illegitimately occupied” the OAS office in the capital of Managua, and warned that they could be held responsible internationally.
Nicaragua has frequently described the Washington-based OAS as interventionist and controlled by the United States.
“Nicaragua is not a colony of anyone,” the government said in a statement announcing its withdrawal.
Last month, Nicaragua’s then-ambassador to the OAS accused Ortega’s government of repressing the political opposition, human rights abuses and cracking down on freedom of speech.
The United States and the European Union have called last year’s election illegitimate, and have pressed Ortega to hold new elections and release more than 160 prisoners.
(Reporting by Ismael Lopez; Writing by Daina Beth Solomon; Editing by Michael Perry and Kenneth Maxwell)