Religious processions and chants have become common at the re-election campaign rallies of leftist Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who is highlighting his Christianity in his bid for re-election.

The image put forth by Ortega’s Sandinista Party has dismayed Roman Catholic Church officials, who say the leader’s spirituality is a ploy to deceive Nicaraguans who will elect a president in November.

“It’s legal, legal, legal,” Ortega said at a recent rally when addressing criticism that he is running a campaign tinged with religion. “No one can ban us from using the word Christian. No one. The Vatican hasn’t said a word about it.”

Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla who led the leftist Sandinista movement starting in the 1970s, is running for a third term as president, his second consecutive one for the Central American nation.

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