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Logistic problems mar Dominican presidential vote

In this popular Caribbean tourist destination beset by widespread poverty, some voting centres on Sunday opened up to two hours late due to problems with electronic equipment and a mass resignation of technical assistants.

No fewer than 3,000 such assistants presented their resignations, said the head of the electoral commission, Roberto Rosario, without giving details.

Casting his ballot at a school in the capital, Medina, who is favoured to beat his seven rivals despite the country’s grinding poverty and widespread crime, called the resignations “irresponsible.” 
“The process is taking place as normal,” he said. Many polling centres switched to manual balloting due to issues with electronic voting, which is being used for the first time.

“We are overcoming these problems, which are normal,” Rosario said. Earlier, he promised “the most transparent elections in the history of our democracy.”  But some voters were disgruntled.
“I got up early because I have to work... I want to vote and couldn’t,” said Mireya de la Cruz, a tourism worker who queued at a school.

Medina, who is up against a divided opposition, has an 89 per cent approval rating, according to a survey by Mexican consultancy Mitofsky. That makes the 64-year-old the most popular leader in Latin America.”I voted for continuity. Danilo needs another four years to improve safety and work with the schools,” Roxana Almonte, a 58-year-old secretary at a school in downtown Santo Domingo, told AFP.

Medina’s centrist PLD party has been in power for 12 years in the Spanish-speaking nation, which shares the island of Hispaniola with its troubled neighbour, Haiti. The economy is booming thanks to millions of tourism dollars from foreigners flocking to the country’s luxury hotels and beaches. It grew seven per cent last year and inflation stood at 2.3 per cent.

But 40 per cent of the nation’s 10 million people are estimated to live in poverty and the unemployment rate is about 14 per cent, according to government figures. 
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