Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega remained under pressure on Monday despite backing down on a contentious pension reform plan that triggered four days of violence in which 24 people were killed.
The Central American country's main private business association – an ally of Ortega during his 11 years in power – said it would go ahead with an anti-government march later today.
Students who led the protests vowed to keep up their demonstrations until the 72-year-old former Sandinista rebel Ortega and his wife and vice-president Rosario Murillo are ousted.
On Sunday, Ortega sought to placate popular fury, announcing he was revoking the pension reform plan that would have increased both employer and employee contributions and reduced benefits, in an IMF-backed bid to cap a rising US$76-million deficit at the Nicaraguan Social Security Institute (INSS).
The increases were the spark that ignited student protests last Wednesday that soon spread to other sectors of Nicaraguan society.
"The protests are no longer just for the INSS, it is against a government that denies us freedom of expression, freedom of the press and to demonstrate peacefully," 26-year-old political science student Clifford Ramirez told AFP.
"We believe there is no longer space for dialogue," he added.
Student protesters won support in neighborhoods where residents came out to bang kitchen pots, and from workers and retirees angered by government corruption and the deterioration in their living conditions.
The protests intensified over the weekend as demonstrators erected barricades of burning tires in the streets of the capital Managua, while mobs ransacked shops in various parts of the city.
The United States denounced the "excessive force used by police and others," urging Ortega's government to allow journalists to work freely.
The European Union called the violence "unacceptable."
"We demand that the Nicaraguan government cease the brutal attacks against the demonstrators and the civilian population," the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights said in a joint statement with the International Federation for Human Rights.
Before his U-turn late Sunday, Ortega had agreed to hold talks with the private sector, only to be rebuffed by business leaders who said there could be no dialogue unless his government "immediately ceases police repression."
Ramirez said the deaths and censorship during the protests had ended the possibility of resolving the crisis through talks.
"We can no longer accept this government, we are protesting for the Ortega-Murillo couple to leave power," Ramirez said.
He said young people who took to the streets do not feel represented by the opposition parties that have in recent years backed Ortega, nor by the business leaders who supported him since he returned to government in 2007.
"Since the Sandinista Revolution in 1979, we've had the same political leaders, they don't let anyone else come in. We want a new leadership who represents the youth," Ramirez said.