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Obstacles to Nicaraguan Elections Removed

THE accord which the Nicaraguan government and all 21 opposition parties signed last Friday seems to have resolved the principal obstacles to a fair election. It would also seem to limit the maneuvering room for the Bush administration to declare the elections illegitimate. After a marathon meeting Aug. 3 and 4, the government and opposition agreed to a 40-point plan. After concessions on opposition demands, the government got the opposition to sign on to a call for the five Central American Presidents to devise a plan for demobilization of the contras. They also supported a call for other governments to ``abstain from realizing covert activities in the electoral process of Nicaragua.''

The major points of the agreement include:

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A suspension of military recruitment during the electoral campaign from September until the elections on Feb. 25.

A general amnesty for all contra prisoners and some opposition political activists convicted under the public security law. The amnesty will take effect once the contras have been demobilized.

Abrogation of the Maintenance of Order and Public Security Law.

A half hour of free television time six days a week for the opposition on one of the two state-controlled channels.

Other points dealt with details of the electoral process the opposition had said were unfair or too vague, such as staffing voting places, issuing voter lists, and ensuring that state resources were not used by the government for campaigning.

The scope of the accord surprised many observers, and its signing seemed to commit the opposition to participating fully in the elections. Until Friday, it had not clearly stated it would take part.

The way now seems clear for the opposition to announce its candidates for president and vice-president and its program for governing. Both announcements are expected later this month.

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