The Nicaraguan government said it has initiated talks with the country’s private sector in what observers see as a bid to repair the relationship between embattled President Daniel Ortega and business leaders and ease a political crisis that has engulfed the country since last spring.
The dialogue between the government and businessmen “has confirmed the need for an agreement to begin negotiations through an inclusive, serious and frank meeting,” the government said in a statement Saturday evening.
Next week, Nicaragua’s national assembly, which is dominated by legislators loyal to the government, is expected to discuss tax reform that would increase taxes on business and eliminate some exemptions.
Protests first erupted in April when Ortega’s leftist government moved to reduce welfare benefits, but have escalated into broader opposition against Ortega, who has been in office since 2007.
More than 320 people have been killed and more than 600 detained since protests began, according to figures from human rights groups.