Opposition candidate Luis Abinader of the Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) has been declared the winner of the Dominican Republic's presidential election held on Sunday, July 5. Although the full results had not been fully proclaimed by the Central Electoral Board as of Monday morning (local time), July 6, with over 80 percent of the votes counted, Abinader had gained over the 50 percent of the vote required to avoid a second round run-off. His two main rivals, including Gonzalo Castillo of the ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD), conceded defeat overnight, ending a 16-year reign in power for the PLD.
Barring one incident involving a shooting outside a polling station in Santo Domingo during an argument between rival party supporters, the election reportedly passed off peacefully. However, political tensions are likely to remain high over the coming days following the announcement of the results.
The general election was scheduled to take place on May 17 but was delayed as a precaution due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Incumbent President Danilo Medina of the PLD was ineligible to stand for re-election having served two consecutive terms since 2012.
The municipal elections in February were marred by technical difficulties, and irregularities in the electronic vote-counting process led to allegations of election rigging by the leading party, the Dominican Liberation Party. The technical difficulties caused widespread demonstrations, causing the Central Electoral Union (JCE) to suspend the initial election and hold a rerun on March 15. While the second-round of voting was relatively peaceful, there is heightened political tension in the country. Any allegations of misconduct in the general election will most likely lead to significant nationwide unrest.
Individuals in the Dominican Republic are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all large public gatherings as a precaution, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments, and refrain from discussing political topics in public or on social media.
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