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NICARAGUA ELECTION WAS HONEST BUT NOT FAIR, SANDINISTA SAYS

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Nicaraguan Leonor A. Huper, the highest ranking Sandinista official in the United States since 1988, speaks with bitter ire when she thinks about thousands of dead and injured compatriots.

Fellow Nicaraguan natives, she says, sacrificed themselves battling a band of U.S.-backed Contra rebels 17,000 strong.Accompanying her bitterness about the eight years of bloody fighting is a skeptical analysis of recent elections which put a U.S.-supported government in power.

"It was an honest election - she (President Violeto Chamorro) won, but it was not a fair election," Huper said.

The former Counsel General of the Nicaraguan Consulate in Washington, D.C., Huper was in Salt Lake City on Saturday visiting relatives. She agreed to an interview with local reporters.

There is a difference between honesty and fairness, she said.

"The Nicaraguan people went to vote with a gun to their head. It was loaded with two bullets - one was a continuation of the Contra war and the other one was more economic restraints; both of them promised by the president of the United States of America."

President Bush unduly influenced the elections by supporting Chamorro's campaign, she said.

Last April Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega, in the presence of the world press and a dozen foreign governments, relinquished the Nicaraguan presidency in inauguration ceremonies for newly elected President Violeta Chamorro.

The inauguration marked the acceptance by Sandinistas of democratic elections as the basis of government legitimacy.

Despite the relinquishment, Huper said the Sandinistas, which toppled the Somoza dictatorship 11 years ago, will rule Nicaragua again in 1996 when Chamorro's term ends.

"We are in politics, and we are in politics to win," she said.

Huper talked about divisions already existing among Chamorro's administration - primarily between Chamorro and her vice president Virgilio Godoy.

She said Godoy would never allow a woman to be his superior unless he was influenced to do so by a powerful source.

That source, according to Huper, is the U.S. government.

"Ever since August, every weekend, a plane left Washington to go to Nicaragua with Congressmen and all their aides to see about how things were going in Nicaragua - you draw your own conclusions," she said.

Recent government strikes may also have divided the new government, Huper said.

During the strikes, Godoy decided Chamorro was being "too soft."

"So after four or five days of striking, Godoy went on the radio saying he had formed a special police-force," she said.

Huper said with the help of the Israelies, Godoy is in fact, beginning to train ex-Contras called the "White Hand" to "do what they do in Guatemala - kill people right and left."