- Title: DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: WOMEN CAST VOTES FOR THE FIRST TIME IN HISTORIC ELECTIONS
- Date: 30th June 1996
- Summary: SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC. (JUNE 30, 1996) (RTV - ACCESS ALL) 1. GV VARIOUS STREET SCENES (3 SHOTS) 0.15 2. LV POLLS OPENING 0.22 3. LV EXT PEOPLE QUEUEING TO VOTE 0.28 4. LV'S PEOPLE VOTING, REGISTRATION LIST, PEOPLE CASTING VOTES (5 SHOTS) 1.16 5. SCU WOMAN VOTER SAYING SHE CAST HER VOTE WITHOUT ANY PROBLEM (SPANISH) 1.23 6. LV SECURITY AT THE PRECINCTS. 1.29 Initials Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
- Embargoed: 15th July 1996 13:00
- Location: SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC
- Country: Dominican Republic CARIBBEAN
- Reuters ID: LVADRF55C7A4AE7OIF9TIDXTC7B
- Story Text: - INTRO: Balloting has started in the Dominican Republic with women casting their first votes in a historic election marking the end of President Joaquin Balaguer's seven presidential terms.
----------------------------------------------------------------- Voters went to the polls across the Dominican Republic on Sunday (June 30) to cast their ballots in a presidential runoff election that will end six decades of domination by just two political strongmen.
The voting was being monitored by more than 200 foreign observers including former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and about 20,000 police officers with orders on how to conduct themselves during the nation's first-ever runoff vote.
About half of the nation's 7.5 million people were registered to vote in a race that was expected to be close.
They will decide whether Jose Francisco Pena Gomez of the centre-left Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) or centrist Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) will succeed seven-term President Joaquin Balaguer.
Dictator Rafael Trujillo and the 89-year-old Balaguer, once a Trujillo protege, have dominated Dominican politics for six decades.
Trujillo's three decades of brutal rule ended with his assassination in 1961. Balaguer's will end in August, after his agreement to step down after two years rather than four, following his questionable 1994 victory over Pena Gomez.
International outrage over the 1994 outcome -- Balaguer was not declared winner of the May 16 vote until August and then by only about 1 percent of the votes -- sparked constitutional reforms, including the provision for the runoff.
In the first round round of voting on May 16 Pena Gomez finished first with 46 percent of the vote to Fernandez's 39 percent, forcing the Sunday runoff because neither of the two leading candidates achieved an outright majority.
International and Dominican observers who monitored that vote said they believed it was fair.
"We've been seeing the Dominican Republic moving from dictatorship to elections more and more free," Carter, who is leading an observer delegation, told a news conference after his arrival on Friday.
About 10,000 polling stations opened at 6 a.m EDT (1000 GMT), with women voting in the morning and men in the afternoon, a system initiated this year in an effort to keep citizens from casting ballots more than once.
Voting is scheduled to end at 6 p.m. EDT (2200 GMT) and election officials said they hoped to begin releasing results by 10:00 p.m. or 11 p.m. EDT (0200 or 0300 GMT).
Polls have given Fernandez, 43, a relative political newcomer, about a five point edge over the 59-year-old Pena Gomez, who is seeking the presidency for the third time, but both sides have predicted victory.
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