Leftist Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega appears to have won the right to seek re-election in 2011, though opponents call the decision illegal and are vowing to fight it.
The constitutional commission of the Supreme Court overturned a ban on consecutive re-election and on serving more than two terms, and the head of Nicaragua’s electoral commission said the ruling is final.
Only members of Mr Ortega’s Sandinista party took part in the ruling by the heavily politicised court.
But the president of the Supreme Court, a member of the opposition Liberal Party, refused to recognise the decision.
“Ortega is completely disqualified from being a candidate” in the next elections, Justice Manuel Martinez said.
Opposition leaders said the commission ruling was an underhanded power grab by Mr Ortega, who was first named president after the Sandinista rebels toppled dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979.