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Deceased lawmaker to remain speaker of Nicaragua congress

FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2005 file photo, National Assembly President Rene Nunez talks during a press conference in Managua, Nicaragua. Nicaragua's congress has decided that Nunez, who died on Sept. 10, 2016, will remain as the body's titular head through the end of the legislative session in January. The unprecedented move is intended to honor Nunez, who was president of the legislative assembly for nine years until his death, at age 69. The assembly's vice president will take on his administrative responsibilities. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

FILE - In this Jan. 9, 2005 file photo, National Assembly President Rene Nunez talks during a press conference in Managua, Nicaragua. Nicaragua's congress has decided that Nunez, who died on Sept. 10, 2016, will remain as the body's titular head through the end of the legislative session in January. The unprecedented move is intended to honor Nunez, who was president of the legislative assembly for nine years until his death, at age 69. The assembly's vice president will take on his administrative responsibilities. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)

MANAGUA, Nicaragua — The Nicaraguan congress will have a dead man as its speaker for the next four months, lawmakers in the Central American nation have decided.

The National Assembly voted overwhelmingly Tuesday night to keep Rene Nunez, who was the body's president for nine years until his death on Sept. 10, as their titular head.

The assembly's vice-president will take on his administrative duties until the end of the legislative session Jan. 10, when new leadership is to be chosen.

The unprecedented move is intended to recognize Nunez's contributions to the country, said Edwin Castro, leader of the ruling Sandinista party's congressional bloc.

"What we are deciding is that no substitute will be chosen because the president of this assembly will continue to be Rene Nunez," Castro said in remarks to lawmakers.

Opposition legislator Lissethe Montenegro, who abstained from the vote, argued that the law calls for deceased legislators to be replaced.

"I think Rene should be allowed to rest in peace," she said.

Nunez, 69, a longtime party ally of President Daniel Ortega, was up for re-election in November. In early 2015, he was first hospitalized in Costa Rica for a lung ailment that led to his death this month.