The opposition Dominican Revolutionary Party amplified its charges yesterday that party activists and electoral officials are being jailed and treated violently by military forces in areas outside the capital.
Party president Salvador Jorge Blance showed reporters a list of 49 party officials he said have been detained throughout the Dominican Republic.Jorge Blance also charged that electoral officials in at least 10 cities had been foreced to sign falsified precinct returns following last Tuesday's presidential race.
The charges reflect the opposition's growing apprehension that the government of President Joaquin Balaguer and the military, rather than giving up attempting to assure his reelection and by force aw many believed they had, actually have been trying to buy time to come up with a new strategy to achieve that goal.
Vote counting in the election was abruptly halted early Wednesday when the armed forces, who favored the candidacy of three-term incumbent Balaguer, occupied and shut down Election Commission centers after it appeared that opposition candidate Antonio Guzman was winning.
Under the Domincan electoral system, each of more than 5,000 local polling booths tallies its own botes, and then brings the totals to a provincial captiqal for transmission to Santo Domingo. At the time to the shutdown, barely 25 per cent of the results had been transmitted.
While troops were withdrawn from Santo Domingo, and the central tabulation continued late last week following strong domestic and international pressure on the government, the opposition has charged continued military harassmetn in the countryside.
Balagure, in a speech Thursday night, cited a number of precedural "irregularities" in the election, which he blamed on both his own Reformist Party and the opposition, as well as electoral officials. He said, however, that he believed the process had been "clean".
The president also said he would respect the results of the election even if they showed that Guzman, a center-leftist whom he did not mention by name, had won.
But the opposition, which exulted Firday in what was interpreted as a presidential admission of defeat, now says it fears that it underestimated both Balaguer's political shrewdness and the military's desire to continue his conservative government.
To support these fears, opposition spokesmen pointed out that the Santo Domingo capital district, which computes its vote totals separately from those of the rest of the contry, released its unofficial final results, showing a 2-1 Guzman victory, last Friday. The central electoral headquarters, which computes totals from the rest of the contry, has stalled without explanation.
In the previous two elections, when Balaguer ran unopposed, nationwide totals were obtained within a day of the vote.
Some members of the opposition believe that by continuing to confuse the situation, perhaps producing new copies of certified results from provincial polling booths that conflict with those counted election night, the government may be preparing to nulify the entire election.
"You have to understand something about Dominicans to understand what is going on," said a local businessman. The longer the government can drag out the suspense, he said, the more likely it is that people will become either bored with the situation or even more afraid of the military and decide that maybe they can live with Balaguer for four more years.
Last week, without explanation, the government fired the national tax collector, who was described by an opposition figure as "one of the most honest guys in the government." Opposition politicians said they believe the move was designed to gain support from neutral or opposition businessmen who may care more about their pocketbooks than the fairness of the election.
Similarly, the armed forces secretary, Gen. Rene Beauchamp Javier, said Saturday, in answer to a local reporter's question, that he understood Balaguer was considering raising military and police salaries.
Beauchamp's statement was made at an unusual luncheon meeting of Dominican generals that observers said was designed to display a united military front to the public.
Several local newspapers received calls to send photographers to the gathering and pictures of the assembled officers, who are generally considered to be divided into several warring factions, subsequently appeared on front pages.
While the opposition has reinforced a negative interpretation of what may in fact be innocent events, the government has done virtually nothing to convince the population that fears of manipulation are unfounded.