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Daily News - 12 February 1998

Results of the Reformista primaries are questionable
Several politicians who participated in the Partido Reformista Social Cristiano primaries held throughout the country have protested the results and requested that party leader, former President Joaquín Balaguer have them annulled. Former Vice President Jacinto Peynado, a member of the committee of three upon whom Dr. Balaguer has entrusted the organization of the primaries, said that political secretary Federico Antún Batlle should offer an explanation as to what has happened. Pre-candidates who participated in the National District primary called for the annulment saying that the irregularities included the disappearance of voting boxes, delays in the opening of the polls, delays in the delivery of the ballots, casting of pre-marked ballots, physical aggression of party leaders, changing of results and purchasing of votes. Peynado, the party's presidential candidate in the 1996 election, said he has received reports that Federico Antún Batlle, Hector Marte, Leonardo Matos Berrido and Aníbal Páez were involved in the electoral fraud in the Santo Domingo primary held on Sunday. The primaries were held to choose the party's candidates for the congressional and municipal elections scheduled for May 16, 1998. The PRSC must choose its candidates by March 16, 1998.
Donald Reid Cabral, spokesman for the party, said that the party will make known the official results of the primary on Friday.

Government officers must step down
The Junta Central Electoral, the organization in charge of organizing the congressional and municipal election of May 16, 1998, said that Central Government officers seeking to be elected to congressional or municipal posts will have to provisionally resign from their responsibilities or request a leave of absence from the Executive Branch effective no later than 17 March. About 20 government officers will be affected by the measure announced by the president of the JCE, Dr. Juan Sully Bonnelly. March 16 is the deadline for the parties to register their candidates for the elections. The measure is taken so that government officers cannot take advantage of government resources during their final campaign days.

New Santo Domingo election officers
Yesterday, the Junta Central Electoral (JCE) swore in members of the important National District electoral board. These are Ana Teresa Pérez, María Engracia Franjul de Abatte, Juan Francisco Puello Herrera, Danilo Enrique Been Ricardo y Mu-Kien Sang Ben. The National District is the largest electoral district with 1.138 million registered voters.

U.S. seeks extradition of former ambassador
A former director of the Dominican Social Security Institute and former Dominican ambassador before the United Nations, Rafael Pantaleón González, is still under arrest. According to the Listín Diario, Pantaleón is sought by the U.S. government for an alleged US$15 million fraud against Medicare. He stood trial in New York in 1995 but returned to the D.R. before the sentence was levied. Attorney General Abel Rodríguez del Orbe told Hoy newspaper that the extradition agreement between the D.R. and the United States gives the Executive Branch 60 days to extradite González Pantaleón. Family members say he is innocent, and rather a victim of a complot by a Mr. Harold Siegel who falsified Pantaleón's signature. In the fraudulent scheme, Siegel would deliver low cost goods to senior citizens and report these as more expensive items. Siegel presented to the FBI a video that shows Dr. Pantaleón receiving money from Siegel, supposedly for the service of signing the fraudulent claims.
The most recent Dominicans extradited were Francisco Medina (Freddy Kruger) and Maximo Antonio Reyes, in August 1997. The U.S. has requested the extradition of 38 other Dominicans, accused of various crimes.

Japan donates US$11 million for grade schools
The government of Japan contributed US$11 million for the construction of 52 grade schools all throughout the country. The construction of the schools was begun in the area of Manoguayabo, on the outskirts of Santo Domingo. Minister of Education Ligia Amada Melo de Cardona and counselor of the Japanese Embassy, Yoshiharu Namiki, were present at the symbolic ground cutting for the first school. Minister Melo de Cardona said that Japanese teachers might visit to participate in educational exchanges. President Leonel Fernandez is scheduled to visit Japan this year.

AMET officer fires at taxi driver
An officer at the service of the Metropolitan Transport Authority (AMET) fired at a taxi driver, injuring him in his left arm on Tuesday. The incident took place at the intersection of Mexico and Duarte avenues at around 9 am. A witness said that officer Juan Candelario Rodríguez ordered that taxi driver Francisco Javier Delgado stop. Delgado did so but refused to surrender his license. Instead he started his car and took off rapidly, almost knocking down the traffic officer. Rodríguez then fired at him. Rodríguez was arrested and is retained at the Homicide Department of the National Police. Delgado was interned at the Hospital Darío Contreras.

Ally now or wait for year 2000
The president of the Junta Central Electoral, Dr. Juan Sully Bonnelly, warned political parties that if they choose to ally themselves for the May 16, 1998 congressional and municipal election, they would not be able to do so in the presidential election scheduled for year 2000. Dr. Sully Bonnelly said that the electoral law states that the political parties must participate without the support of allies in either the municipal and congressional or the presidential election within a four year period. In other words, if any of the parties pact now, they will not be able to do so in year 2000. Given this situation, it is very unlikely that any of the three major party will reach a formal alliance for this election. The date for formal alliances is February 16. The PRSC agreed to an informal alliance with the PLD prior to the second round of the 1996 presidential election.

Vanderhorst kicked out of Chamber offices
The president of the Chamber of Deputies, Hector Peguero Mendez, closed the offices of deputy Andrés Vanderhorst of the Partido Liberal La Estructura, an ally of the Partido Reformista in the 1994 congressional election. On Tuesday afternoon, the president of the Chamber also ordered the changing of the locks on the door of the office of the deputy. Vanderhorst had said yesterday that several congressmen accepted money to accelerate the passing of the telecommunications bill.

Haitians medical emergencies swamp local hospitals
The president of the Dominican Medical Association said that public hospitals, and especially those in the frontier area, are hard pressed and unable to provide adequate services as there is a steady flow of emergency patients coming in from Haiti. Dr. Eusebio Garrido said that this situation has to be addressed.

Pro Haiti campaign
The Dominican government should take the leadership in lobbying for an international solidarity for Haiti, according to journalist Felix Reyna, who published a contribution in the Listin Diario on 12 February. Haiti is the poorest nation in the Americas, and its problems have an indirect effect on the Dominican Republic. Citizens of that nation cross the frontier seeking employment, health services, education, and bringing negative customs such as that of cutting down trees for cooking for charcoal. The journalist comments that President Leonel Fernández should lead a crusade for Haiti, a nation that has almost totally devastated its land, taking advantage of the excellent relations he has made in his first year and a half in government.

Lengthy blackouts to continue through February
Spokesmen for the AEC-Dominican Power, a private energy generation company, said that the Los Minas plants will not be back on line until the end of the month. According to a report in the Listín Diario, the units have design problems that were detected after the new owners took over the installation from previous owners. They said that repairs that are taking place should definitely solve the problem. The CDE is dependent on private generators for the supply of about 50% of total energy served to the national energy grid.

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