Santo Domingo (AFP) – Opposition candidate Luis Abinader has claimed victory in the Dominican Republic’s presidential race after voters on Sunday braved a worsening coronavirus outbreak to cast their ballots for a new leader and legislature.
Abinader’s rivals and the outgoing president also recognized his win, which ends 16 years of unbroken rule by the Caribbean nation’s center-left Dominican Liberation Party (PLD).
“We won, today we win, but we will never forget who we owe this victory to,” the 52-year-old businessman said from a platform before dozens of followers at his campaign headquarters in the capital Santo Domingo.
“We owe it to you, the Dominican people. That is why tonight we all won.”
According to data from the central electoral board after around 60 percent of ballots had been counted, Abinader gained around 1.2 million votes — around 53 percent.
The PLD’s candidate Gonzalo Castillo came second in a six-man field, with 838,000 votes — or 37 percent — according to the incomplete figures.
Castillo said the official count “shows that there is an irreversible trend and that from now on we have a president-elect… Our congratulations to Mr. Luis Abinader.”
Outgoing President Danilo Medina also accepted the businessman’s victory, tweeting his “congratulations to the new president-elect @LuisAbinader.”
Abinader’s win was is yet to be formally announced by the electoral board.
Gunfire outside a polling station in the capital left one person dead after an argument among opposing party activists turned violent, police said.
But elsewhere, voting appeared to progress