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Nicaragua expels UN human rights mission

© AFP | Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has come under fire for the heavy-handed response of authorities to street protests

MANAGUA (AFP) - 

The government of Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega on Friday expelled the United Nations human rights mission to the Central American country, a local NGO group said.

The move comes two days after the UN demanded urgent action and criticized the government over its heavy-handed response to anti-regime protests during months of turmoil in the country that have left more than 300 people dead, according to rights groups.

"This inexplicable decision is untimely," said Vilma Nunez, president of Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) in a press conference.

"It reflects the spirit of someone who feels completely lost and can no longer hide his responsibilities and hide from the truth," she added in a clear reference to Ortega.

The UN had denounced a wide range of serious violations, including disproportionate use of force by police, which in some cases resulted in extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, arbitrary detention and torture.

"The violence and impunity of these past four months have exposed the fragility of the country's institutions and the rule of law," UN rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein warned in a statement, describing a "climate of fear and mistrust."

Nicaragua's descent into chaos was triggered on April 18 when relatively small protests against now-scrapped social security reforms were met with a government crackdown, backed by armed paramilitaries.

Ortega refuted the claims and described the UN as "an instrument of the policies of terror, lies and infamy."

© 2018 AFP