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Daily News - 26 August 1998

Danielle forecast to bypass Caribbean
It now appears Hurricane Danielle will bypass the Dominican Republic and the entire Caribbean. The hurricane has veered to a more northernly track that will lead it away from the islands. The Hurricane has been upgraded to a Category 2 Hurricane, and hurricane watches are still in effect for the region as it is possible, although unlikely that it may revert to a southernly track. For a map of the forecasted route of Hurricane Danielle, see http://www.usatoday.com/weather/huricane/whatltrk.htm#danielle

Fernández and Balaguer call for resignation of JCE judges
President Leonel Fernández and former President Joaquín Balaguer published full page advertisements in the national dailies calling for the resignation of the recently elected judges of the Junta Central Electoral. The public letter was read yesterday afternoon from the National Palace by the President's press director, Adriano Miguel Tejada. Present were Secretary of the Presidency Danilo Medina, and former Secretary of the Presidency during the Balaguer administration, Rafael Bello Andino.
A DR1 translation of the document reads as follows:
"The undersigned, doctor Leonel Fernández, President of the Republic, and doctor Joaquín Balaguer, former President of the Republic, want to warn the country that the unilateral election of the judges of the Central Electoral Board (JCE) made recently by the senators of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano (PRD), brings about the loss of trust and credibility in the organization of the elections, which in turn produces a pernicious situation for the future of Dominican democracy.
"We consider it a moral duty of the judges recently appointed to resign because the reduction in their credibility as impartial arbiters of the year 2000 electoral process subtracts legitimacy from their appointments.
"We believe, also, that if the recently chosen judges of the Junta Central Electoral do not resign, they will be creating a crisis for the next presidential elections, a fact that would signify a step backward for the advancement of democracy in the Dominican Republic.
"We appeal to the good judgement and sense of the Partido Revolucionario Dominicano, to seek, in a joint manner, a harmonius solution to a problem that Dominicans have shown the maturity and sense of responsibility necessary to resolve.
"We believe that the maintenance of the democratic stability of a nation rests on the level of commitment that the organizations and its leaders have in the democratic system, as well as in the flexibility and spirit of equilibrium that one may have to push on always in favor of the national interest."

The response to the request for resignation
The block of the senators of the PRD and allies that make up the Acuerdo de Santo Domingo warned President Fernández and Dr. Balaguer that with "threats, announcements and omens," the Senate will not revert the naming of the judges of the Junta Central Electoral.
Earlier, Secretary General of the PRD, Hatuey Decamps had said that President Fernández is to blame for the unilateral appointment of the new JCE because of his maneuvers made to name the members of the Chamber of Accounts and the approval of the Judicial Career Bill.
Judge Manuel Ramón Morel Cerda, the newly elected president of the JCE, said he will not resign. When asked the question during a visit he made to Hoy newspaper, as part of visits to the press upon his appointment, he said:
"I'll say one thing, we were legally and constitutionally appointed and we are not going to resign, absolutely not, we are not going to resign and I have nothing more to say."

Electricity utility announces rate reduction
The Corporación Dominicana de Electricidad, the state electricity utility, announced a price cut of 10% in electricity billing of commercial, residential and industrial users. Several sectors had complained of the abusive 50%+ increases in billings. The CDE has attributed the increases in the billing to the devaluation of the peso and to the increased power supplied. Those affected say that the CDE is resorting to the usual practice of increasing the bills of those that pay instead of going after the thousands of users that do not pay for electricity consumed. The CDE has placed on-line turbogas generators that are expensive to operate, and thus needs additional resources. It is estimated that 50% of consumers do not pay for the electricity, which has to be subsidized by the state. Note that government offices, nor city municipalities (city streets) do not pay for electricity. The central government pays the CDE about RD$250 million a month in subsidies.

PRD deputies swear before a notary public
The deputies of the PRD and the Acuerdo de Santo Domingo were sworn in yesterday. The PRD deputies block had abandoned the Chamber of Deputies session where other deputies were sworn in on 16 August in protest for the re-election of Héctor Peguero Méndez as president of the Chamber of Deputies. They refused to be sworn in by Peguero, and instead invited notary public Rosario A. Fondeur Ramírez to the National Assembly hall (the hall where the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies meet jointly), for the ceremony. This procedure is permitted by the Constitution.

Modernization at the Supreme Court of Justice
The Supreme Court of Justice announced users will soon be able to get an update on their legal cases by making a telephone call. The Supreme Court says that Tel. 533-3191, extension 328 is activated to offer the service. Users need only to call the number and then dial in the numbers of the case they are interested in getting an update on.
The Supreme Court also announced it has installed Touch Screen technology at the headquarters of the Court, where interested parties can find out the status of the cases, the programming of cases that will be heard by the Supreme Court, the Appeal Courts and Civil Courts, and general information.
The Supreme Court maintains an Internet page at http://www.suprema.gov.do
This information is in Spanish, though, but Internet users can access the translation service of Altavista-digital for help with the translation.

President to travel to Puerto Rico
President Leonel Fernández will travel to Puerto Rico on Sunday, 29 August to attend the 64th Southern Governors' Association Annual Meeting and Central American to be held August 30 -September 1, at the Hyatt Regency Cerromar Beach Resort in Dorado, Puerto Rico. During the event a Trade Workshop is scheduled where talks on trade, investment, transport, infrastructure and tourism issues regarding the region will be given. Upon making the announcement, press information director Adriano Tejada said that the forum will present the opportunity for President Leonel Fernández to meet with colleagues from Central America. This meeting is important given the impasse in the discussion leading to the finalizing of the free trade agreement between the DR and Central America after Costa Rica changed the rules requesting that the DR negotiate individually with each Central American country.
Southern Governors" Association is the oldest and historically the largest of the regional governors' associations in the United States. Founded in 1934, leaders meet to exchange ideas, explore common issues and address pressing problems and promote regional accomplishments. Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia and West Virginia.
The meeting is chaired by Puerto Rican Governor Pedro Rosselló.
The 64th annual meeting of the Southern Governors' Association meeting is promoted as a conference that will feature opportunities for southern states and businesses to look south to the markets of Latin America for their economic future. Attending businessmen and governors can meet with leaders from Latin American countries as well as with leaders in our own country to explore these and other issues of regional interest. The meeting will also feature sessions with the Southern Growth Policies Board, the Southern Technology Council and the Southern States Energy Board.
Cesar Gaviria, Secretary General of the Organization of American States, and Haroldo Rodas, Secretary General of the Central American Economic Integration System (SIECA) will also be participating.

Privatization of airports advances
The Ministry of Public Works, Civil Aviation Board and the Airport Department of the government met yesterday with companies interested in participating in the tender for the assignation of concessions to operate Dominican airports. The meeting was attended by 28 companies and five embassies, as reported in the press. Rafael Serrano, represented the Ministry of Public Works; Vitelio Mejía represented the CAB and Armando Castillo Peña represented the Airport Department.
According to a press report, among the companies interested in the bids are: Dragados FCC, ADP-GTM , Spie Batignolles-Sofreavia, WNB+ASSSI International, Grupo Ferrovial y Asoc.; Impregilo; Bouygues BTE (Maquico); Cronos; Hormigones Moya; Sercitec; Samuel Conde y Asociados; Aeronorte; Operadores Aeroportuarios del Caribe; Ramon L. Baez C por A.; Civilcad; Dorsch Consult; Rodríguez-Sandoval y Asoc.; Atteco; ACS Proyectos, Obras y Construcciones, S.A.; Grupo Calmaquip; Tecnoproyectos S.A.; and Ogden.

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