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Nicaraguan police beat protesters and harass journalists

An anti-government protester is pulled between police and fellow protesters during a demonstration demanding fair elections, near the Supreme Electoral Council in Managua, Nicaragua, Wednesday, July 8, 2015. Demonstrators are demanding clean elections for Nicaragua's 2016 general elections slated for November. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Police beat and detained government opponents and harassed journalists Wednesday at a protest outside Nicaragua’s top electoral council.

The protesters were attending a weekly demonstration in the capital of Managua to demand fair election rules and a change of electoral magistrates ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Police initially tried to block them from reaching the electoral council offices, but they grabbed a police barricade and tried to use it to force their way past a police line.

Officers roughed up several photographers and broke the lens of an Associated Press photographer.

Police also detained but later released nine lawmakers from the opposition Independent Liberal Party.

Government opponents contend the ruling Sandinista party has skewed electoral rules and oversight in its own favor.

Augusto Valle, a Liberal Independent legislator in the Central America Parliament, suffered a wound to the face in the fracas.

“This is repression. I am exercising my right to protest,” Valle told local media. He claimed police took his cellphone and hit him in the legs and stomach.

Liberal Independent leader Eduardo Montealegre said his party “will continue demonstrating for transparent elections and for changes in the electoral branch.”

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