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Nicaraguan arrangements for vote have been fair so far, Carter says

Arrangements for Nicaragua's election appear to be fair so far, says former President Jimmy Carter, a key international observer of Sunday's vote. But Carter, who leaves for Nicaragua today, said he was worried how the ruling Sandinistas and opposition parties would behave when the result is known the next day.

"I think technical arrangements for the election are going as good as can possibly be evolved," Carter said.

He said his concerns included how the loser will react, what the future of the Contras will be and how Washington will deal with Nicaragua if the Sandinistas win.

"These are questions that are very troubling and impossible to answer, and we're trying to make plans to accommodate them," Carter said.

Carter said he was certain international observers would be able to detect any fraud.

While Carter will be the most visble of several hundred international observers, it is unlikely his role will be as dramatic as it was in Panama, according to Robert Pastor, his chief aide for Latin American affairs.

Carter won wide acclaim in May when as an observer of the Panamanian election he accused Manuel Noriega of stealing the vote from opposition candidate Guillermo Endara, who was ultimately installed as president when the U.S. invaded Panama in December.