Nicaragua's top electoral authority has decimated the country's political opposition by unseating practically all of its remaining lawmakers in the congress as President Daniel Ortega prepares to seek a third term.

The Supreme Electoral Council ousted 16 opposition legislators from the Liberal Independent Party and its ally the Sandinista Renovation Movement Friday for not recognizing their leader. That leader, Pedro Reyes, had recently been given that authority by the Supreme Court, which removed the party's previous leader following a long-running political dispute. Reyes is seen by some within his own party as a tool of Ortega.

The 16 legislators removed from their seats supported the party's former leader Eduardo Montealegre and refused to recognize Reyes.

Reyes says the vacant seats will be filled by party members who recognize him.