The Vatican’s “ad interim” chargé d’affaires in Nicaragua, Marcel Diouf, left the country on Friday, closing the diplomatic delegation, the news portal Vatican News reported Saturday, amid tensions between Managua and the Holy See.

“Yesterday, March 17, the chargé d’affaires, ai, Monsignor Marcel Diouf, left the country and moved to Costa Rica,” the paper said.

He added that “the closure of the Holy See’s diplomatic headquarters came as a result of a request from the Nicaraguan government on March 10”.

“According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the Custody of the Apostolic Nunciature and its Possessions [en Managua] it was entrusted to the Italian Republic,” he explained.

Diplomatic relations between Managua and the Vatican were on the verge of breaking last Sunday, when the Nicaraguan foreign ministry said in a statement that “a suspension of diplomatic relations has been proposed” with that European state.

This statement came days later, in an interview given to the Argentinian portal Infobae, Pope Francis described the government of the Central American country, led by socialist president Daniel Ortega, as a “rude dictatorship” and that the president suffers from an “imbalance”.

During the interview, the Argentine pope also referred, without naming him, to Nicaraguan bishop Rolando Álvarez, who was sentenced to 26 years in prison in February for, among other things, “undermining national integrity”.

The 56-year-old Bishop of Matagalpa had been detained since August on conspiracy charges and refused to be deported to the United States.

The pope’s statements, in turn, came days after the Central American country’s government decided to close two universities linked to the Catholic Church.