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Dominican Republic vote to go ahead despite coronavirus threat

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Voters in the Dominican Republic are set to defy rising coronavirus infections to choose a new president in an election that could end 16 years of unbroken rule by the centre-left Dominican Liberation Party (PLD).  

Opposition candidate Luis Abinader is favourite in Sunday’s election, having taken a commanding lead in opinion polls despite being forced to abandon his campaign after he tested positive for COVID-19.

Abinader, a 52-year-old businessman, recovered sufficiently to close out his campaign at a rally on Wednesday.

“Change is coming and the PLD is going,” he promised a crowd of hundreds of his supporters, allowed to gather after the government eased a lockdown.  

A Gallup poll gives Abinader, from the opposition Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) more than 53 percent of voter intentions, 20 points ahead of the ruling PLD party’s Gonzalo Castillo. Another poll gives Abinader a slimmer 12 point margin.  

Castillo, a former public works minister, is standing for the PLD because outgoing President Danilo Medina cannot seek another term under the Republic’s constitution.

Dominican republic election

Ruling Dominican Liberation Party (PLD) Gonzalo Castillo (left); opposition Modern Revolutionary Party (PRM) candidate Luis Abinader [File: Erika Santelices/AFP]

“The Dominican people should remember that a president is elected in one day, but the consequences last for four years,” Castillo told a crowd of his supporters in the town of Monte Plata.

Former president Leonel Fernandez, 66, trails in third place with 8.6 percent. Fernandez ruled for a total of three four-year terms between 1996 and 2012.  

Three other candidates are contesting the presidency from minor parties. 

Election shaped by corruption and pandemic

The Dominican Republic has a poor record on corruption, ranking 137th out of 180 countries on Transparency International’s corruption index.

It has been particularly key issue in this election cycle after protests in recent years over the involvement of some local officials in a Latin America-wide fraud scandal involving the Brazilian construction Odebrecht. The corporate giant has admitted to doling out $92m in bribes in the Domincan Republic in exchange for winning public works contracts.  

Meanwhile, election’s campaigning has been unlike any other in the tourist-magnet Caribbean republic’s history, overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic, which has hit the country’s population of 10 million hard.

The Republic – which shares the Caribbean island of Hispaniola with Haiti – has registered more than 34,000 infections from the coronavirus, with more than 800 deaths, according to an AFP news agency tally. 

Luis Abinader presidential election

Dominican Revolutionary Party (PRD) candidate Luis Abinader is a favourite in Sunday’s election [File: Reuters]

The outbreak forced Medina’s government to declare a national lockdown, banning large public gatherings and shutting borders – a massive economic blow to one of the strongest growing economies in the region.

A state of emergency was lifted only this week as parties made a final drive for votes.

‘Come what may’

The election date has already been pushed back from May 17 but will go ahead “come what may” on Sunday, Julio Cesar Castanos, the president of the Central Electoral Board, has said. 

The authority’s advice to voters: “Put your mask on and get out and vote.”

Despite health protocols being put in place at polling stations, Health Minister Rafael Sanchez Cardenas said it would be “practically impossible” not to have news outbreaks of COVID-19.  

“We have to get beyond this line of 5th of July, hoping that there won’t be an overflow of cases and that we will be able to respond,” the minister said.  

The pandemic has already hit polling by the Republic’s 600,000 overseas voters – representing almost 8 percent of the electoral roll.  

Most live in the United States, Spain and Puerto Rico, where polling has been taking place. However, expatriates in Italy and Panama have not been authorised to vote because of coronavirus restrictions in place there.  

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Armenian Aggression

Euro 2020: Wales wins over Turkey

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By Laman Ismayilova

The Wales national team has won over Turkey in the Euro 2020 Group A. The match ended with the victory of the Wales national team with a score of 2: 0.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan watched the game held within UEFA European Football Championship.

The match took place Baku Olympic Stadium. Before the match, hundreds of football fans flocked to the streets in Baku in the soccer uniform of the Turkish national team to support the fraternal country.

Three matches are planned to be held in Baku within EURO 2020.

EURO 2020 is being held from June 11 to July 11 in 11 European cities. Four Group A games will be held in Baku within EURO 2020.

The first match of the group was held in Baku on June 12 between Switzerland and Wales (1:1)result, while Italy beat Turkey, 3:0. Meanwhile, 1/4 final game will take place in Baku on July 3.

The 2020 UEFA European Football Championship, commonly referred to as 2020 UEFA European Championship, UEFA Euro 2020, or simply Euro 2020, is the 16th UEFA European Championship, the quadrennial international men's football championship of Europe organised by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).

The tournament, being held in 11 cities in 11 UEFA countries, was originally scheduled from June 12 to July 12, 2020, but was postponed amid COVID-19 pandemic and rescheduled for 11 June to 11 July 2021. It retains the name "UEFA Euro 2020".

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Armenian Aggression

Putin-Biden talks begin in private behind closed doors

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By Trend

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his US counterpart Joe Biden have begun talks in private in the library hall on the ground floor of the Villa La Grange, Trend reports with reference to TASS.

Before that, the media was let in for an official photo session. Both leaders dropped several remarks. Also, they exchanged a couple of words, when the reporters were leaving the room.

After the photo session the talks began behind closed doors. The two leaders are accompanied by Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and interpreters.

Putin arrived at the site of the summit meeting from Geneva airport at 14:05 Moscow time. Biden's motorcade followed at 14:17 Moscow time. Both leaders were welcomed by Swiss President Guy Parmelin.

After that the three presidents proceeded to the main entrance, where Parmelin made a brief welcoming address. Putin and Biden shook hands (the US leader extended his hand a tiny fraction of a second quicker than his Russian counterpart) and then left for talks.

As follows from snapshots taken by TASS photographers, Putin and Biden shook hands again, when they were already inside the villa.

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Armenian Aggression

Shusha Declaration confirms allied nature of relations between Azerbaijan, Turkey – Russian analyst

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By Trend

The signing of the Shusha Declaration on Allied Relations by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev and President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirms the allied nature of relations between the two countries, Darya Grevtsova, a political scientist and Deputy Director of the Russian Institute of Socio-Political Research, told Trend.

Within the framework of these allied relations, both countries are ready for the development of the region, the political scientist noted.

"First of all, this is the development of various economic projects. But this requires the unblocking of communications, primarily the Zangezur corridor," Grevstova added.

“At the same time, all three sides – Azerbaijan, Russia, Turkey must put pressure on Armenia to provide the maps of minefields,” the analyst noted.

Grevtsova added that the intensive development of the region will be beneficial for Armenia as well, since communications are unblocked, new ways will open and many projects, including investment ones, are being implemented.

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