Fending off accusations of corruption, Dominican Republic leader Leonel Fernandez has swept to a third term in office, winning the presidential election by a big enough margin to avoid a run-off vote.
His success in pulling the country out of an economic slump was seen as the decisive factor. Fernandez said he interpreted the result as a “renewel of trust in the government” and his Dominican Liberation Party.
In the run-up to the ballot supporters of his main rival, businessman Miguel Vargas Maldonado, claimed public funds had been used to bolster the President’s campaign.
The election was also marred by violence with three people killed and eight others injured in a spate of gun attacks. Despite the apparent tension in the country Maldonado was quick to concede defeat when partial results showed he could not win.
The Dominican Republic’s relative wealth makes it the envy of much of the Caribbean. But many Dominicans still struggle to satisfy basic needs. Fernandez says addressing poverty is a top priority. But experts say the effects of a weakening global economy and rising fuel prices could derail his plans.