IRI board members, Peter Madigan and Kirkpatrick, with Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolanos.Dr. Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and member of the Board of Director of the International Republican Institute (IRI) led an IRI delegation to Nicaragua in early March to observe, first-hand, the current state of Nicaraguan politics, before the November 2006 presidential and legislative elections.  The delegation included fellow IRI Vice Chairman Mr. Peter Madigan, IRI President Lorne Craner and IRI Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean Brian Dean.

The visit was widely covered in the Nicaraguan media due to Kirkpatrick’s commitment and support of democracy in Nicaragua.  Her schedule included visits with leaders of civil society and political parties, presidential candidates, and elected officials.  During her trip, Kirkpatrick commented that she was visiting Nicaragua “…to support political parties in Nicaragua’s democratic process…” and to study the development of democracy in Nicaragua.

Kirkpatrick met with Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolaños who expressed his support for her exploratory mission to Nicaragua.  Dr. Kirkpatrick stated that the United States would support the candidate who won in the November elections as long as the elections were free, fair and transparent – a theme she repeated throughout her trip.

Highlights of her meetings include a visit with former mayor of Managua and Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) dissident presidential candidate Herty Lewites.  Kirkpatrick was also welcomed by presidential candidates Eduardo Montealegre and Jose Antonio Alvarado.  Both candidates expressed their support for Kirkpatrick’s visit.

The Nicaraguan Resistance Party (PRN), comprised primarily of ex-Contras, honored Dr. Kirkpatrick for her role in supporting the democracy in Nicaragua while she was Ambassador to the United Nations.  She used the opportunity to remind those that the future of Nicaraguan democracy was dependent on not reverting to old ways and dictatorship.  

In addition, Dr. Kirkpatrick took time to meet with civil society leaders, the executive board of IRI subgrantee Movimiento por Nicaragua (MpN), women political leaders and opinion makers, and the youth oriented Juventud de Nicaragua (JUDENIC) which is currently working to raise awareness among youth in Nicaragua of the importance of voting and participating in the political process.

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