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Nicaraguans Vote in Presidential Election


Police officers carry boxes filled with ballots to waiting vehicles that will distribute the material to polling centers, in Managua, Nicaragua, November 5, 2011.

Police officers carry boxes filled with ballots to waiting vehicles that will distribute the material to polling centers, in Managua, Nicaragua, November 5, 2011.

Voters in Nicaragua are casting ballots Sunday in a presidential election expected to favor incumbent Daniel Ortega.

Ortega, a onetime Sandinista revolutionary, is poised to become the first Nicaraguan president to serve back-to-back terms since the end of the Somoza dictatorship in 1979.

A recent public opinion poll indicates President Ortega leads Fabio Gadea of the Liberal Independent Party by 18 percentage points, and could get enough votes to avoid a runoff.

Ortega first came to power in 1984 after earlier leading a movement to overthrow the country's dictator Anastasio Somoza. President Ortega lost his re-election bid in 1990, but regained power in 2006.

His popularity has been buoyed by his support for a free-market economy and assistance to the poor, who make up almost half of Nicaragua's nearly 6 million residents. The country is among the poorest in the Western Hemisphere.

The U.S. has raised concerns ahead of Sunday's poll, because people have complained of not getting voting cards.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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