ACCESSION NUMBER:302189 FILE ID:LEF506 DATE:09/03/93 TITLE:CHAMORRO'S RIGHT TO REPLACE ARMY CHIEF CHALLENGED (09/03/93) TEXT:*LEF506 09/03/93 CHAMORRO'S RIGHT TO REPLACE ARMY CHIEF CHALLENGED (9/3 VOA correspondent's report) (360) (With Lsi503 of 09/03/93) By Bill Rodgers VOA Correspondent SAN JOSE -- Nicaraguan President Violeta Chamorro's announcement that she intends to replace armed forces head Humberto Ortega brought a quick challenge from the military, who announced she lacks the authority do it The army's challenge is in response to Chamorro's Sept. 2 announcement. Mrs. Chamorro's statement drew support in Washington. "We applaud the bold steps toward reasserting civilian control over the military and intelligence service that Nicaraguan President Violeta Chamorro announced in her speech to the nation earlier today," Secretary of State Warren Christopher said in a statement issued late Sept. 2. "President Chamorro's speech should give a strong impetus to the discussions among the Nicaraguan Government, the National Opposition Union, and the Sandinista Front scheduled to begin Monday. These talks -- aimed at achieving peace and stability through national reconciliation -- deserve our enthusiastic support. We hope that the Nicaraguan people's commitment to democracy will thereby be strengthened." Nicaragua's Military Council says President Chamorro has no right to name a new army chief under the current law. The Council, following a late meeting later in the day, said the law sets no term limitations for top military officers and added that only the National Assembly can change this situation. The Council's declarations came only a few hours after president Chamorro announced she wants to name a new armed forces chief next year. She also said she wants to change the name of the Sandinista Popular Army to one that more closely reflects the army's national character. The president spoke during a military ceremony marking the 14th anniversary of the Sandinista army's founding. General ortega, who served as military commander under the former leftist Sandinista government, has told reporters his departure will depend on the terms of a military reform law, which the government must sbumit to the National Assembly. The Council acknowledged that President Chamorro could set term limits for military officers when she submits the reform law to the National Assembly. A top Council member, General Joaquin Cuadra, denied the Council's action represented an act of insubordination. NNNN .