Municipal elections outside the capital of this troubled Central American nation began yesterday with indications that voters by the thousands were boycotting the voting to push demands for President Anastasio Somaza's resignation.
Members of the National Guard, the combined police and army, were braced for more antigovernment demonstrations and renewed attacks by Marxist guerrillas, but no significant incidents were reported.
The only legal opposition group in this nation of 2.5 million persons, the Conservative Party, said 52 of its 132 candidates has withdrawn voluntarily in an anti-Somoza protest.
There was little doubt here that Somoza's Liberal Nationalist Party will win, as it has for decades, and that there will be widespread charges of vote-rigging.
Polling stations in two major provincial cities, Leon, 54 miles northwest of the capital, and Granada, 30 miles southeast, were virtually desserted three hours after the scheduled 12 hours of voting began. Results were not expected until late last night. Observers consider that the voter turnout, rather than the results, will indicate what support remains for Somoza, whose family has ruled since 1933.
The Country, in political turmoil since the Jan. 10 assassination of opposition newspaper publisher Pedro Jouquin (hamorro, is virtually paralyzed by a two-week old, nationwide anti-government strike called by business and labor leaders.
There are no elections in the capital city of Managua, which is run by the federal government with city officials appointed by Somaza. National guardsmen patrolled the city with rifles and sub machine guns and pushed aside barricades of rubbish put up by protesting householders.
Housewives in the capital, who have pledged to beat upon pots and pans nightly until Somoza quits, carried on their noisy campaign Saturday night. They remained indoors after being dispersed by club-wielding guardsmen the night before.
In Leon, a former stronghold of the Liberal Nationalist Party, acting mayor Oscar Sugranes said guerrillas attacked a cotton cooperative Saturday night, but were driven off, apparently without casualties, after guardsmen fired about 40 shots.
Thursday night and early Friday, 14 persons were reported killed and 24 injured in clashes between guerrillas and government troops.
Broken glass littered the streets of Leon, a city of 100,000 persons, after 10 days of antigovernment protest.