The new president of the party allied with Gen. Manuel Antonio Noriega told the United States Sunday to keep its "hands off" Panama and end what he called immoral policies toward the country.
Carlos Duque made the demands in a speech accepting the presidency of the Democratic Revolutionary Party, or PRD, the party tied to Noriega.Noriega, head of the Defense Forces and the nation's de facto ruler, was not at the party meeting.
Duque called U.S. economic sanctions against Panama and its backing for the opposition campaign to oust Noriega immoral. He said his party together with the Defense Forces will fend off the "gringo invader."
Duque also said the Democratic Revolutionary Party will field a candidate in presidential elections scheduled for May 1989, although he did not say when it would name its nominee.
Noriega, who faces drug-trafficking indictments in the United States, has been rumored to be planning to run for president.
Duque, a businessman, said it was time the United States realized it will "lose its struggle against a noble and dignified people."
He said the Reagan administration "hasn't been able to bend us" despite its "lies" and economic sanctions, which he called "brutal."
He called on Nicaraguan business and labor to redouble efforts to save Panama "from the economic crisis that is threatening to ruin our country."
The Reagan administration imposed economic sanctions on Panama and froze Panamanian assets in the United States earlier this year in a bid to force Noriega to step down.