In this May 30, 2018 photo, anti-government protesters carry letters that form the Spanish word for "Justice" during a march against the government of Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega in Managua, Nicaragua. (ESTEBAN FELIX / AP)
MANAGUA - The Nicaraguan government and civic groups on Friday agreed to halt all violence after two months of deadly political unrest, but President Daniel Ortega did not address a call by church mediators to allow for early elections.
The political protests have killed 170 people, injured hundreds more and brought the economy of the impoverished Central American nation to a halt.
An international task force will be set up to investigate the killings during the protests that started on April 18
Most of the dead were anti-government protesters who demanded the resignation of Ortega, a former socialist guerrilla and Cold War-era US foe, blaming his administration for the violent crackdown on demonstrations.
The Catholic Church, which acted as a mediator, called for Ortega to allow early general elections in March of next year as a way to ease tension.
In a letter to the mediators Ortega did not address the request, but remained open to negotiations scheduled to continue on Saturday.
"The end of all violence is a basic necessity. Nicaraguans don't need any more violence," Foreign Minister Denis Moncada, the head government negotiator, told reporters.
Civic leaders said they were satisfied with the agreement that included setting up an international task force to investigate the killings during the protests that started on April 18.
They also agreed for the gradual removal, under the supervision of international organizations, of makeshift roadblocks that have snarled traffic and curbed trade.
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