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From: Greg Chamberlain <GregChamberlain@compuserve.com>

Santo Domingo, May 15 (EFE) --  The Dominican government admitted Monday
that its officials have been detaining dark-skinned citizens and
confiscating their voting cards to prevent them from casting ballots in the
presidential election.
   The administration of President Leonel Fernandez, in acknowledging such
abuse prior to Tuesday's vote, promised to desist.
   Wilfredo Alemany, spokesman for the Central Electoral Board, said Monday
that Danilo Diaz, director of Migration, returned to the board an
unspecified number of voting cards confiscated from black Dominicans.
   The official admission came after the electoral tribunal said it would
take legal action against Diaz to oblige him to put a halt to the sweeps of
dark-skinned citizens.
   Election authorities earlier Monday had accused the government of
stepping up the detention of black citizens to confiscate their voting
   Santiago Murray, head of the Organization of American States mission
sent to observe the election, had characterized the allegations as "grave."
   Manuel Ram"n Morel Cerda, president of the Central Electoral Board,
denounced intensification of the government campgain.
   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."