ARENA Crisis Continues as Former Leader Quits Party

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The right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) party suffered another political blow last Friday when Francisco Laínez, a long-time leader in the party, publicly renounced his membership. The Minister of Foreign Relations under the administration of President Tony Saca (2004-2009) and a contender for the 2009 ARENA presidential candidacy, Laínez had also served in the party’s National Executive Council (COENA) until recently. In a public letter to COENA, Laínez expressed his disillusionment with the party and its 2014 presidential candidate, Norman Quijano. Claiming himself the victim of “foolish attitudes that repeatedly infringe upon and disrespect party leaders,” Laínez accused Quijano of ordering his resignation from COENA “in an atmosphere conflicted by dirty campaigns, accusations and baseless speculation,” and rebuked the party leadership for its rejection of his own candidacy in 2009. In several subsequent television appearances and interviews, Laínez has further disparaged the party and its presidential campaign, revealing that internal polls show falling support for Quijano within ARENA. Laínez’s public condemnations of ARENA come on the heels of major divisions and restructurings within the party. Following the recent announcement of former-President Saca's candidacy as part of a right-wing coalition of smaller parties in the 2014 elections, these latest developments are evidence of a growing political crisis for ARENA.

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