MANAGUA, NICARAGUA -- As the government of President Violeta Chamorro marks its first 100 days in office, its successes in ending nearly a decade of civil strife appear tempered by continuing economic woes and a failure to get a grip on military and police forces inherited from the leftist Sandinistas.

Chamorro's greatest accomplishment so far, diplomats and Nicaraguan sources say, has been an agreement under which the country's U.S.-backed anti-Sandinista rebels, or contras, turned in their arms and rejoined civilian life. On the other hand, they have returned to a country in which inflation is running at an annual rate of more than 900 percent and a plan to stabilize the national currency is lagging well behind the government's original timetable of 100 days, which was reached Friday.

The government blames these problems in large part on actions by the Sandinistas, including a dramatic increase in the money supply before they left office April 25 and a subsequent wave of Sandinista-instigated labor strife.

In the long run, however, foreign and Nicaraguan analysts say the government's biggest problem may turn out to be the army and police.

While both the Sandinista Popular Army and the newly renamed National Police are under nominal civilian direction, that control is tenuous as regards the police and nonexistent in the case of the army. Both institutions remain essentially Sandinista in leadership, organization and political outlook.

Although it was supposed to have been disbanded, the Interior Ministry's notorious General Directorate of State Security -- the Sandinista secret police -- was transferred in April to the army, where it is now called the Defense Information Directorate.

"Not only does this government not control the army and police," a diplomat said, "it also does not control the state intelligence force."

With leftist security forces entrenched in positions of strength, some analysts say, Nicaragua is emerging as a mirror image of neighbors such as Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, where right-wing armies hold virtual veto power over civilian governments.

In a compromise with the former Sandinista government of president Daniel Ortega, Chamorro agreed to retain Ortega's brother, Gen. Humberto Ortega, as army chief provided he gave up his seat on the Sandinista National Liberation Front's nine-member National Directorate. It was agreed that soldiers could not hold party offices, that the army would be subordinate to civilian rule and that Gen. Ortega would turn over his post as defense minister to a civilian appointed by Chamorro.

But the fact that Chamorro, unversed in military matters, decided to serve as her own defense minister has meant that the army continues to operate without any effective civilian control. Moreover, Chamorro has not yet appointed any vice ministers of defense, although other ministries have as many as two such positions. Because Gen. Ortega works in offices at his home inside a heavily guarded compound and at military bases, there is not even a Defense Ministry building to which civilian government officials have regular access.

Even if Chamorro were to take a more active role as defense minister, she would have to contend with an unpublicized law that limits her authority.

Before leaving power, president Ortega quietly decreed a "Law of Military Organization of the Sandinista Popular Army," which gave broad powers to the army commander and virtually none to the defense minister. The decree was dated Dec. 27, 1989, and published in an issue of the Official Gazette dated Feb. 23 -- two days before the election that toppled the Sandinistas.

The decree automatically confers the post of army commander on the highest-ranking military officer -- Humberto Ortega is Nicaragua's only four-star general -- and gives him authority on the army's behalf to procure and produce arms, enter into private contracts, decide all promotions, deploy forces and build military bases, airstrips and naval facilities.

It also authorizes the commander to "create enterprises of production, supply and services" for the army, decide whether to allow "the transit of national territory by troops of another country" and formulate military budgets for presentation to the government. For "security reasons," the decree states, these budgets are to be presented in "global form," apparently ruling out any itemized review.

The only mention of the defense minister in the decree comes in two paragraphs stating that the army commander is to consult the minister in naming military attaches assigned to Nicaraguan embassies and representatives to "international military organizations."

In a separate decree dated three days before the election, president Ortega also transferred Nicaragua's civil aviation administration and all its properties from the Transportation Ministry to the Defense Ministry, effectively putting the entity under military control.

If the dates on the decrees are correct, the documents would suggest that despite the Sandinistas' preelection predictions of victory, they were actively preparing for defeat.

In transition talks before Chamorro's inauguration, Sandinista leaders agreed to disband the more than 2,000-member General Directorate of State Security, which had been accused of numerous human-rights abuses. However, according to government officials and diplomats, it was merely moved into the army, and many of its senior officers were given army ranks.

Among them was Lenin Cerna, the former state security chief who earned a reputation for brutality in suppressing Sandinista opponents. The Cuban-trained son of a Communist activist, Cerna directed the October 1979 torture-killing in Honduras of Pablo Emilio Salazar, a former National Guard captain who was trying to organize anti-Sandinista resistance, according to published accounts.

Sofonias Cisneros, the Chamorro government's current education minister, charged that Cerna personally tortured him when he was arrested in 1985 for denouncing what he called the Marxist orientation of education under the Sandinistas.

According to Nicaraguan human-rights leaders, a number of former state security officers now occupy key posts in the National Police, formerly called the Sandinista Police.

Still holding the post of police chief is Rene Vivas, a longtime Sandinista militant who trained with the Palestine Liberation Organization in Lebanon in the 1970s. He is considered a protege of Tomas Borge, the hard-line former Sandinista interior minister who gave up his post when Chamorro took office.

Visitors to Managua today might be forgiven for thinking that Borge remains in charge. Uniformed sentries and plainclothesmen with walkie-talkies still bar access to his bunker-like residence, which is hidden inside a compound surrounded by modest bungalows built for Interior Ministry employees.

Although the ministry has been renamed the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the personnel remain largely the same. According to the ministry's new spokesman, Frank Cesar, the institution employs about 10,000 holdovers from the previous government, with only 20 persons representing the new Chamorro administration. Among the employees are about 5,000 police officers, 750 prison guards and more than 600 members of the immigration and fire departments, but even administrative personnel still have military-style uniforms and ranks.

The new government says it will respect those ranks but plans to change the uniforms and give the ministry a "more civilian character."

"Passing from a totalitarian system to a democracy is a transition that takes a lot of work," said Cesar. "But we are advancing."

One major difficulty is that the new government has not had access to many important official records. Cesar said Chamorro government officials were told upon assuming office that Interior Ministry records -- including computer disks -- were destroyed in December on orders of Sandinista leaders, who feared a U.S. invasion in the aftermath of the American intervention in Panama.

"They declared a red alert, and the first thing they did was destroy information that could serve the enemy," Cesar explained. "Anyway, that's what they said." He added that "the same thing happened in practically all institutions of the government" and that "information of every kind" was destroyed, including economic data.

The latest case to come to light was illustrated by a letter from the Sandinista comptroller authorizing the Nicaraguan Central Bank to burn records of six bank accounts belonging to the army, the Interior Ministry and the Foreign Ministry. The letter, published last month in the Chamorro-owned newspaper La Prensa, was dated April 24, a day before the Sandinistas left power.

The government's vulnerability was illustrated last month when the army and police responded grudgingly, in the view of some diplomats and Nicaraguan sources, to appeals to them by Chamorro to restore order following strike violence. Lino Hernandez, a leading human-rights advocate, noted that neither the army nor the police obeyed Chamorro's orders to dislodge strikers from public buildings and businesses. Yet Chamorro felt obliged to thank some of the security forces publicly for their limited role in resolving the situation.

The whole episode "strengthened the position of Humberto Ortega," Hernandez said. According to a diplomat, "the message was clear to all that {Chamorro} is very dependent on him and very vulnerable to Sandinista tactics."