Voters go to the polls in the Dominican Republic on Thursday (16 May) after three stormy months campaigning even by Latin American standards.
GV Crowds gathered at rally listen to speech (3 shots)
SV Balaguer addressing rally
SV ZOOM TO CU Crowds listening (2 shots)
SV Balaguer continues speaking
SV Supporters with posters of Balaguer
SV Balaguer ends speech and crowd applauds
Initials BB/1842 RJ/JB/BB/1854
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Background: Voters go to the polls in the Dominican Republic on Thursday (16 May) after three stormy months campaigning even by Latin American standards. Twenty one people died during the campaign .. many of them shot, though some were hacked to death with machetes. The President, Joaquin Balaguer, was nearly killed in a helicopter crash, and to cap it all, the three coalition opposition parties are threatening to boycott the elections. Their move threatens to provoke hostile feelings similar to those which touched off civil war in 1965. The opposition says that a change in the voting laws which would allow voters to cast ballots anywhere could facilitate fraud by the ruling Reformist Party. In an apparent concession, the Electoral Tribunal has ordered special checks on voters who cast ballots in booths in which they are not resgistered, to prevent people from voting twice.
The Government has also ordered 20-thousand troops and police stand guard at polling stations.
President Balaguer is seeking his third term in office, and it seems certain he will get it. The opposition parties are still deciding whether to boycott the elections over the "vote anywhere" issue, but even if they do keep their names on the ballot papers their chances are slim.
The electioneering death toll rose to 21 when a policeman was shot to death while guarding the tomb of the President's mother. The incident occurred on Monday (13 May) a day after the President wound up his election campaign with an address at a rally in Santo Domingo.