Nicaragua With an army of observers keeping watch, Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega makes his fourth attempt to return to the presidency today in an election being monitored closely by the U.S. and its antagonist Venezuela.
Ortega, 60, who spent nearly a decade fighting U.S.-backed Contra rebels, is the front-runner in the race with four other candidates. He can avoid a runoff if he wins 35 percent of the vote and beats his main opponent, Harvard-educated banker Eduardo Montealegre, by 5 percentage points.
The latest polls showed Ortega with an easy lead over Montealegre, but just shy of the 35 percent needed to win outright. The December runoff likely would be much more difficult for Ortega to win, mostly because the votes won't be splintered among five candidates.