Panama recalls its ambassador to Nicaragua for talks over Martinelli

Nicaragua grants asylum to Panama's ex-President Martinelli

PANAMA CITY (Reuters) -Panama recalled its ambassador to Nicaragua on Monday for consultations, citing the government's "energetic protest" against what it called the illegal protection afforded to a former Panamanian president at its embassy in Panama City.

In a statement, Panama's foreign ministry accused the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega of allowing Ricardo Martinelli to conduct political activities from its diplomatic mission in Panama, which it argues is contrary to international law.

"The Republic of Panama demands that the Republic of Nicaragua complies with its international obligations," the statement said.

Since February, Martinelli has sought refuge in the Nicaraguan embassy in Panama City after Ortega's government provided him with asylum status.

The 71-year-old supermarket tycoon-turned-politician has lashed out at what he labels a corrupt government at home carrying out a political prosecution against him.

Last month, Martinelli appealed an electoral court's ruling that deemed him ineligible to run in May's presidential election due to a nearly 11-year prison sentence for money laundering. Panama's constitution bars anyone sentenced to a prison term of five years or more from serving as president.

Martinelli governed Panama from 2009 to 2014.

(Reporting by Elida Moreno; Editing by Richard Chang)