Protesters demand Nicaragua leader resign amid probe of deaths

May 7 (UPI) — Nicaraguan lawmakers have set up a commission to investigate the deaths of dozens of anti-government protesters, as opponents demand the resignation of President Daniel Ortega.

At least 45 people died last month in protests against planned changes to social security, requiring workers to pay more into the system and receive less when they retire.

The protests ultimately turned to anger toward the government and its leader.

Congress speaker Gustavo Porras said the five-member panel of investigators would act independently of the legislature and be free to research where they wanted. The commission has three months to issue a final report.

Students who were among the protesters, though, say the commission will not be independent since the Congress is pro-government. Many other anti-government activists are calling for Ortega to resign.

“He has two options: dead or alive,” said Rosa Díaz, whose 29-year-old son died during a particularly violent night of protests in Managua. “But he has to leave office.”

The uprising, which began April 19, was led by university students and culminated in the deadliest unrest since nearly three decades of war ended in 1990.

Public buildings were set on fire and Vice President Rosario Murillo compared the violence to “vampires demanding blood.”

Dozens of students were arrested and later released. The United Nations and the United States have condemned the violence.

Demonstrators chanted for “justice” and said the students killed in the protests “were not criminals.”

Ortega has agreed to talks with protesters, brokered by the Catholic Church, but a date hasn’t been set. The question of whether anyone ordered the killings is expected to be a focus of the talks.