President Violeta Barrios de Chamorro said today that the country's army, the largest in Central America, will be cut to half its present size by early August.
In a speech, Chamorro said that before she completes 100 days in office Aug. 2 the army will be reduced to 41,000 men.
The Nicaraguan army was formed by the leftist Sandinista government after the 1979 revolution ousted rightist dictator Anastasio Somoza. At the height of the war against the U.S.-backed Contra rebels the government force, still called the Popular Sandinista Army, grew to more than 100,000 men armed with an array of Soviet-supplied weapons.
An estimated 30,000 people died in the war, which Chamorro declared ended with the recent disarming of the Contra army.