MANAGUA, Nicaragua, NOV. 21, 2011 ( As Nicaragua's bishops ended their annual assembly last Wednesday, their concluding statement expressed their doubts about the transparency of the Nov. 6 election that ushered Daniel Ortega into another term.

The prelates said the country is in a "difficult moment" after the elections.

Nicaragua's constitution limits presidents to two non-consecutive terms, so Ortega should not have been able to run. However, the Supreme Court granted the permission in 2009, though that decision was also highly controversial.

The bishops first expressed their "admiration of the great majority of the Nicaraguan people who participated with such determination in this electoral process." They said Nicaraguans were "attempting to strengthen our country's democratic system and to be responsible for the nation’s future."

However, the pastors added, it must be said that "this mature and civic determination of Nicaraguans has not been respected as is appropriate in a genuine democratic system."

This is due "to the irregularities that characterized this electoral process from the beginning."

The prelates referred to "numerous complaints" from national and international observers and political parties, and added that the lack of transparency has brought about "strong discontent in a great part of our people in regard to the official results, which do not offer the guarantee of reflecting with fidelity the popular will."

Thus, according to the bishops, "the legitimacy of the electoral process and respect for the will of the people has remained totally questionable."

1st responsibility

As believers, they continued, "we have the firm conviction that any dishonest action that attempts against the sovereignty of the people, is not simply an ethically negative event, but something reprehensible in the eyes of God, who expects the civil authorities to be the first to 'know justice' (Micah 3:1), that is, the first to respect and fulfill the exigencies of justice."

However, the pastors stressed that "the uncertainty that has been created in the country" must not be "a reason for discouragement, rather it must make us grow and mature as a society, reunified around a responsible citizenry's awareness of its rights and duties and committed to peace, which is the fruit of justice."

Exhorting Nicaraguans to proceed in peace, they added: "To hope is to recover our capacity to continue dreaming of a better society for all and to make every effort so that it will be possible: a society built on dialogue between all the sectors of the nation and founded on the state of law, legality, institutional solidity and characterized by a sustainable socio-economic development that all citizens can enjoy."