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#3640: DOMINICAN EFFORT TO BAR BLACKS FROM VOTING (fwd)
From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>
Santo Domingo, May 15 (EFE) -- Election authorities on Monday accused the
government of President Leonel Fernandez of stepping up the detention of
black citizens of Haitian descent to confiscate their voting cards.
Seizure of the document would prevent a citizen from voting in Tuesday's
Santiago Murray, head of the Organization of American States mission
sent to observe the election, has characterized the allegations as "grave."
Manuel Ramon Morel Cerda, president of the Central Electoral Board,
denounced intensification of the government campaign on Monday.
Fernandez, who is constitutionally barred from seeking another term, was
elected on the ticket of the centrist Dominican Liberation Party. That
party's candidate, Danilo Medina, is running third in polls, which give a
substantial lead to Hipolito Mejia of the left-leaning Dominican
Revolutionary Party (PRD).
Dominicans of very dark skin and African features, some of whom are of
Haitian descent, are generally poorer and more inclined to vote for the
left than their lighter-skinned compatriots.
The PRD issued a communique Monday exhorting its supporters "to not let
anyone take away their voting card."