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Dominican Republic chooses leader amid rising COVID-19 cases

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic — With COVID-19 cases still surging, the Dominican Republic on Sunday held presidential elections that had already been delayed by the pandemic, and polls indicated that a businessman with no previous experience in government was favored to oust a party that has ruled for the past 16 years.

Luís Abinader, a 52-year-old tourism industry leader who finished second in the last election, was leading in most recent surveys, with the governing party’s Gonzalo Castillo, a former public works minister, trailing. Former president Leonel Feernández, who served three previous terms, was also on the ballot, along with three minor parties.

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Term limits prevented outgoing President Danilo Medina from seeking a third term of his own for the center-left Dominican Liberation Party, which had won every presidential election since 2004.

Both Abinader and Castillo, 59, have proposed social assistance programs to cope with the coronavirus crisis.

The spreading coronavirus prompted officials to delay the election, which had originally been scheduled for May.

Associated Press