The country’s Supreme Electoral Council said in a resolution published Tuesday that parties will have until June 7, 2021 — five months before the vote — to complete the legal registration process.
Critics said the resolution was invalid, because such changes in voting rules should be approved by the national legislature.
Elections, and term limits which President Daniel Ortega has already exceeded, have been an issue in protests in recent years.
Ortega, 74, returned to power in 2007 following three failed attempts to win the presidency and won re-election in 2011. He sidestepped term limits to get himself re-elected in 2016, and packed courts and government agencies with allies. His Sandinista party controls the courts and the legislature.
Nicaragua’s two main opposition groups announced the earlier this year they will form a coalition to compete in the 2021 race.
Neither the Civic Alliance for Justice and Democracy nor the Blue and White National Unity movement are among Nicaragua’s political parties. Both formed after civil unrest exploded in April 2018.