Daniel Ortega is almost certain to win a fifth term as president Sunday after arresting seven potential opposition candidates. U.S. officials say Nicaragua is spiraling into dictatorship, with worrisome implications for the rest of Central America.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega is poised to win a fourth consecutive term in office Sunday after wiping out all serious opposition in one of the most intense waves of political repression in Latin America since the 1980s, the Washington Post reports.

The election is the culmination of years of efforts by the 75-year-old former guerrilla leader to consolidate power. Since the spring, his government has arrested at least three dozen leading opposition figures, including seven potential presidential candidates, on what are widely viewed as spurious charges.

“These elections will have no credibility,” said Patrick Ventrell, director of the Office of Central American Affairs at the State Department.

“We’re going into a scenario where you have a dictatorship,” he said in a panel discussion Thursday hosted by the Atlantic Council and the Wilson Center. “And we’ll have to respond to such.

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