efe-epaManagua

The Catholic Church of Nicaragua on Saturday urged the country's president to hold early elections to facilitate dialogue to end continuing unrest in the country that has left over 200 dead since mid-April.

In a letter on Saturday, the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua urged Daniel Ortega to expedite general elections from 2021 to March 2019, keeping in mind the sentiments of a majority of the Nicaraguan people.

On Jun. 13, Ortega, in response to a proposal by the Catholic leaders on Jun. 7, had expressed his "willingness to listen to a proposal" within "the constitutional framework of the laws of the country" which provide for general elections to be held every five years.

Saturday's letter comes a day after member countries of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS), with the exception of Venezuela, backed a report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) that had blamed the Nicaraguan government for the ongoing violence that killed at least 212 people, and injured 1,337.

Since early Saturday, violence had re-erupted in the country with government forces clashing with protesters in eastern and southwestern parts of Managua and the city of Masaya, which led to the deaths of six people, including a child, reported Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights.

The country's Civic Alliance had announced on Saturday that it could call for a 48-hour general strike to pressurize Ortega to stop the repression.

Since Apr. 18, Nicaragua has been steeped in its worse socio-political crisis over a set of reforms suggested by Ortega's government.