June 16, 2024

Dominican Republic to vote in poll dominated by Haiti crisis

Dominican President Luis Abinader is poised for a comfortable re-election on Sunday, analysts say, buoyed by support for his tough stance on migration from troubled neighboring Haiti.

The two nations share the Caribbean island of Hispaniola, but the more prosperous Dominican Republic stands in stark contrast to its chaos-plagued neighbor, which has been rocked by months of gang violence.

The volatility across the border has been a key issue in the election campaign, but Abinader also boasts success in managing the economy and the Covid-19 pandemic.

“He is heading towards a comfortable re-election,” Dominican political scientist Rosario Espinal told AFP. 

“He has known how to take measures that would add support for his re-election: subsidies, increased employment, the issue of Haitian migration.”

The 56-year-old millionaire businessman Abinader was elected amid the Covid pandemic in 2020, promising to restore trust in the government after several high-profile corruption scandals embroiling public officials.

In office, he began building a 164-kilometer (100-mile) concrete wall along the 380-kilometer border with Haiti to keep out undocumented migrants.

He also had more than 250,000 migrants deported in 2023.

His followers call him the “crisis president” and the latest Gallup opinion poll showed 60 percent of voters plan to back him.

Abinader’s main rival is former president Leonel Fernandez, 70, who was in office between 1996 and 2000, and again for two terms between 2008 and 2012.

The lawyer and writer has offered up over 2,000 proposals to transform the economy for a “government of progress”, and the Gallup poll shows 25 percent of voters intend to support him.

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