Haiti at forefront of Dominican Republic presidential elections

All candidates agree they would not allow migrants from Haiti to enter Dominican Republic

10:58 - 19/05/2024 Sunday
File photo
File photo

The Dominican Republic will hold presidential elections Sunday and gang violence in Haiti is at the forefront of the campaign.

President Luis Abinader, who is seeking reelection, is the frontrunner due to his successful economic policies and hardline approach toward immigration and border control.

The 56-year-old former businessman has begun to build a wall along the border to divide it from Haiti and he carried out mass deportations of 175,000 Haitians last year. Thousands tried to flee Haiti that has not managed to emerge from the social, economic and political crisis.

“We will continue to deport everyone who is illegal from any country,” Abinader said in April. The president has repeatedly asked the international community to provide money to Haiti to avoid a "civil war."

According to the latest polls, with 60% of voter intention, Abinader, who is the leader of the Modern Revolutionary Party, is the overwhelming favorite, followed by three-time former President Leonel Fernandez, who has 24.6% of the vote. Former Mayor of Santiago de los Caballeros, Abel Martinez, is polling at 11.1%.

To avoid a runoff, a candidate has to get 50% of the vote, which, it seems, Abinader will comfortably achieve.

All candidates have put Haiti at the top of their agendas and all agree that they will not allow migrants from the neighboring country to pass the border.

More than 8.1 million Dominicans will also be choosing a vice president and members of Congress.

Although the two countries share the island of Hispaniola, the Dominican Republic has managed to grow an average of 5% annually for two decades and quickly recovered after the coronavirus pandemic with the help of the tourism industry.

Haiti, on the other hand, has been hit by a wave of violence since February when armed men began burning police stations, attacking government offices, airports and raiding the country's two biggest prisons, releasing more than 4,000 inmates.

Nearly 3,000 people have been killed or injured and almost 100,000 have fled the capital since early March.

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