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Daily News - 08 July 1998

Senate passes bill forces retirement of Supreme Court judges
The Partido Reformista Social Cristiano senators, majority in the Senate, passed a bill that establishes an age limit of 75 years for the working judges and the Judges Career Bill. It grants a four year grace period to the present Supreme Court judges.
The President of the Supreme Court of Justice, Dr. Jorge Subero Isa complained to El Siglo newspaper that in doing so the senators were responding to political and economic interests. He said those sectors are bothered by the independence of criteria shown by the Supreme Court. Dr. Subero rejected the establishment of an age limit for the judges of the Supreme Court. He said that the senators did not vote so with the well-being of the institution in mind, rather their intention was to upset the present Supreme Court of Judges. Three of the 11 judges of the Supreme Court are 75 years old or will be 75 in 1999.
Dr. Subero said even if the bill is passed by the Chamber of Deputies and promulgated by the President, it will not affect the restructuring that is taking place in the Judicial Branch of the government, "with bill or without bill." He said he expects the members of the Chamber of Deputies or the President to show more sense and reject the bill as approved by the Senate. Members of the Acuerdo de Santo Domingo said they were caught unaware and voted for the bill. They said they do not favor a bill that does not allow for at least a five year grace period for the Supreme Court judges that were chosen last year to conform the present Supreme Court of Judges.
Hoy newspaper reported that the bill was passed by 15 senators present, of 30 total, including three members of the Acuerdo de Santo Domingo who were confused when President of the Senate Amable Aristy Castro called the vote.
According to a report from the Justice Committee of the Senate regarding the Bill for the Judges Career, the judges of the Supreme Court of Justice were appointed for a period of four years by the Consejo Nacional de la Magistratura. Nevertheless, they can be re-elected indefinitely. It sets an age limit of 75 years for the obligatory retirement of the judges. Furthermore, the Consejo Nacional de la Magistratura will designate every four years the president, first and second substitutes and the members of the three

Attorney General to be sent as ambassador to Cuba?
Presidential Palace reporter, Manuel Jiménez of Hoy newspaper, reports that he has heard that Abel Rodríguez del Orbe, Attorney General of the Nation since 1996, has asked the government to send him to Cuba as Dominican ambassador. The Dominican Republic restored full diplomatic relations with Cuba in April. Considered a personal friend of President Fernández, Del Orbe has headed investigations into very sensitive cases such as the the killings of journalist Orlando Martínez and university professor Narciso González as well as corruption in government, all focusing on happenings during the Balaguer administration.
The Hoy journalist reports that the Dominican government has already requested the go-ahead from the Government of Cuba. President Fidel Castro of Cuba will be in Santo Domingo in mid August on occasion of the celebration of the 500th anniversary of the city. The heads of state of the English-speaking Caribbean will also be in Santo Domingo for the event, during which they will sign a free trade agreement with the DR.

Caribbean free trade agreement update
The Ministry of Foreign Relations told the press that following the last round of negotiations in St. Lucia, the sixth of a series begun more than a year ago, all is ready for the signing of the free trade agreement during the meeting of ministers of the Caribbean in Santo Domingo, August 20-21. With the signing of the treaty with Caricom, the DR advances towards the creation of a strategic trade group, where the country would serve as link between Central America and the English-Speaking Caribbean, a market of 60 million consumers. The principal negotiator for the Dominican Republic is Ambassador Frederick Emam Zade.

Hotel industry trade show in September
The National Hotel & Restaurant Association announced the celebration of its 12th Trade Show for 3-6 September at the Dominican Fiesta Hotel. The event will be dedicated to the memory of Pedro Garrido, who was executive director of the association and passed away last year. Some 175 exhibits from tourism industry suppliers and Dominican hotels will be open to the public during the trade show.
Tourism is the Dominican Republic's leading generator of foreign exchange. Last year, Central Bank reports indicate that it generated US$2,106.3 million, and contributed 17% of the Gross Domestic Product. This was up from US$1,800 million in 1996.

Dominicans on their electoral system
Listín Diario's Sigma Dos poll showed that 66% of Dominican voters reject the need to hold a second round to elect the President. The system was implemented in 1996 elections and requires a runner up election if any of the candidates fails to reach 50%+1 of the vote. The survey was carried out throughout the national territory from 15-19 June.
Eighty-two percent of the voters are also against the segregation of voters by sex. Dominican electoral law, as of 1996, established that women vote in the morning and men vote in the afternoon. Dominicans favored the carnival-like way political campaigning is carried out with 58.7% happy about political caravans and flagging of political flags on streets of corners. Citizens are divided about the state financing political campaigns. 49.7% favored the new motion, while 47.7% is against.

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