Thu | Aug 13, 2020

Dominican Republic chooses leader amid rising COVID-19 cases

Published:Sunday | July 5, 2020 | 4:11 PM
Luis Abinader, presidential candidate of the opposition Modern Revolutionary Party, greets the crowd while he is surrounded by journalists at a voting center during the presidential elections, in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Sunday, July 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Tatiana Fernandez)

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) — With COVID-19 cases still surging, the Dominican Republic on Sunday held presidential elections that had already been delayed by the pandemic, and polls indicated that a businessman with no previous experience in government was favoured to oust a party that has ruled for the past 16 years.

Luís Abinader, a 52-year-old tourism industry leader who finished second in the last election, was leading in most recent surveys, with the governing party’s Gonzalo Castillo, a former public works minister, trailing.

Former President Leonel Feernández, who served three previous terms, was also on the ballot, along with three minor parties.

Term limits prevented outgoing President Danilo Medina from seeking a third four-year term of his own for the center-left Dominican Liberation Party, which had won every presidential election since 2004.

Both Abinader and Castillo, 59, have proposed social assistance programs to cope with the coronavirus crisis.

The spreading coronavirus prompted officials to delay the election, which had originally been scheduled for May.

It went ahead Sunday even though the Health Ministry on Saturday reported the highest daily count of new confirmed COVID-19 cases, 1,241.

The country of some 10.5 million people has reported 794 deaths from the disease.

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