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Last Updated: Monday, 17 May, 2004, 17:25 GMT 18:25 UK
Press pride over Dominican poll
Hipolito Mejia casts his vote
Mr Mejia was praised as magnanimous in defeat

Newspapers in the Dominican Republic hail Sunday's presidential election as an exercise in civic responsibility and an example to other countries in the region.

Sharing the island of Hispaniola with troubled Haiti, the Dominican Republic itself suffered its share of dictatorships and military coups in the last century, but commentators are hopeful it has now found its niche as an enduring democracy.

President Hipolito Mejia receives special praise for the manner in which he accepted defeat and best wishes go to President-elect Leonel Fernandez, who takes over in August.

Recalling the bad times, when "mavericks chose to ignore the electorate", Hoy believes that "the attitude of the president, which dignifies him, has set free the Dominican people from the habitual tensions which were always part of this process in the past".

It makes us proud to be Dominican
El Nacional

A commentator in Diario Libre similarly acknowledges Mr Mejia.

Everyone a winner

"The captain accepted defeat even before the ship sank. The president has been magnanimous, and magnanimous the president-elect must also be."

Praising the electorate for "not falling for false promises, and understanding the need to embark on a new path", the commentator nevertheless calls for "a great deal of vigilance on the road ahead".

An editorial in Hoy enthuses that the manner of the election indicates that "nobody's been defeated, in terms of patriotism".

"The example of civic responsibility shown by President Mejia and everybody places us in a special position among the countries of the region for the unquestionable progress we have achieved. We must congratulate ourselves on this conquest."

El Nacional acclaims "this successful election" in which "the electorate voted in an ordered and disciplined way".

The Dominican Republic is and will continue to be an example to imitate as far as the democratic project is concerned
Listin Diario

"It makes us proud to be Dominican."

One of the top circulation dailies, Listin Diario, boasting a large front-page headline "Leonel Won!" congratulates "all the protagonists for this overwhelming and beautiful example of civic responsibility".

Great expectations

Noting that "the eyes of the world were on us", Listin concludes: "The foreign observers can live in the knowledge that the Dominican Republic is and will continue to be an example to imitate as far as the democratic project is concerned."

An editorial in Diario Libre acknowledges there were irregularities, "though very few" as well as the killings in the town of Barahona.

"We can only hope that in future, the act of choosing a president and vice-president will be a normal event."

"But there is cause for satisfaction. Once again, society has demonstrated its civic duty and its adherence to democratic norms."

El Caribe points to the "very different futures for Leonel Fernandez and Hipolito Mejia".

"The president-elect will have to carry the country forward, while the incumbent leader will have the opportunity to meditate over his future."

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

The BBC's Claire Marshall
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