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21 Feb 2020 | 03:57 AM UTC

Dominican Republic: Nationwide protests against JCE reported February 20 /update 4

Dominicans protest nationwide in opposition to the JCE on February 20; protests to continue in coming days

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transportation
DOM

Event

Protests have continued in the Dominican Republic on Thursday, February 20, for a fifth consecutive day with several hundred if not thousands of participants. The calls continue for leaders of the Central Electoral Union (JCE) to step down. Protests were reported in Puerto Plata, San Francisco de Macoris, Punta Cana, San Cristóbal, and Navarrete, though the largest were in the capital Santo Domingo and in Santiago. While the protests are largely peaceful, significant transportation disruptions have been reported in the centers of the aforementioned cities. In Santo Domingo, protests were mainly concentrated in Plaza de la Bandera and those in Santiago were held at the Monument to the Heroes of the Restoration and its surroundings.

A protest and march have been scheduled in Santiago on Sunday, February 23, starting at 09:00 (local time) from the intersection of Avenida 27 de Febrero and Núñez de Cáceres. Participants will later march to the Junta Central Electoral where they will likely remain for some time in protest.

Social media sources have also indicated that a nationwide protest is possible on Thursday, February 27, which is Dominican Independence Day. Several thousand protesters may participate.

Protests are, however, likely to continue daily across the country until the JCE speaks out on protester demands. A heightened security presence and transportation disruptions should be expected in the vicinity of all gatherings.

Context

Municipal elections were held on February 16, in which several polling centers operating electronic ballots reported glitches. Following these reports, several protests were reported in cities across the country as a response to the glitches, seen as election rigging by the leading party, the Dominican Liberation Party (PLD). The electronic system was used in just 18 of the 158 municipalities - areas with high population density. The Central Electoral Union (JCE) subsequently suspended the elections and called for a new vote on March 15.

Advice

Individuals in the Dominican Republic are advised to monitor the situation, avoid all large public gatherings as a precaution, adhere to instructions issued by local authorities and their home governments, and refrain from discussing political topics in public or on social media.