Dominican Politicians Await Results
May. 17, 2002
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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) _ Dominican politicians anxiously awaited results Friday after elections that the governing party of President Hipolito Mejia hoped would strengthen its grip on the legislature.
The opposition Dominican Liberation Party and the Reformist Social Christian Party were looking to increase their share of seats following a campaign dominated by economic issues in this poor Caribbean country.
Candidates from the governing Dominican Revolutionary Party pointed to economic gains, while opposition leaders promised to combat joblessness _ now at 15.6 percent _ and widespread poverty.
Preliminary results for the capital, Santo Domingo _ a barometer of the national vote _ had been expected shortly after polls closed, but polls were kept open late and results were delayed as election officials counted the votes.
Official results are expected Saturday at the earliest.
While thousands voted peacefully in the municipal and legislative elections, one person was killed and seven were injured in violence linked to a party rivalries, authorities said.
The violence flared early Thursday before polls opened. One person was killed and five were injured in election-related fighting in Monte Cristi, 145 miles northwest of Santo Domingo, police said. Two others were injured in Villa Vasquez, 95 miles northwest of the capital.
On Sunday, one man was killed in a shootout during a political rally in Yamasa, just north of the capital.
Fighting often breaks out during voting in the Dominican Republic. More than 30 people were killed during 2000 presidential election.
Seats up for election Thursday included all 32 Senate seats, all 150 seats in the House of Representatives and 125 municipal positions, including mayoralties.
Mejia's center-left party now holds the majority in the Senate, with 19 seats, and has 66 seats in the House. The Liberation Party is the largest in the opposition, with four seats in the Senate and 49 in the House. The right-leaning Reformist Party of former President Joaquin Balaguer has 17 seats in the House and two in the Senate.