Lawmakers in Nicaragua have rejected President Daniel Ortega's proposal to create citizen councils, arguing they would be used by the government to spy on the population.

Nicaragua's Congress had previously passed a measure to legally dismantle the groups, but Mr. Ortega vetoed it. Lawmakers gathered 52 votes Tuesday to override the presidential veto.

Critics of the councils say there would be a return to citizen groups Mr. Ortega used during his presidency two decades ago to monitor citizens.

Opposition lawmaker Eduardo Montealegre said the councils would be "a way to blackmail and instill terror."

However, lawmaker Gustavo Porras of the president's Sandinista party defended the groups, saying they are a model of "direct democracy."

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