Fernández starts third term
President takes oath, announcing constitutional reform to run for a fourth time.
President Leonel Fernández took office on Aug. 16 for his third term announcing a constitutional reform bill that would allow him to run for office again in 2012.
Fernández, 54, is the leader of the Dominican Liberation Party, and has governed the Dominican Republic from 1996-2000, 2004-2008 and his current term.
The country had a ban on consecutive reelection until 2002, when the government of then-President Hipólito Mejía (2000-2004) pushed through constitutional reform, but Fernández was elected in the 2004 vote instead of the incumbent Mejía.
Fernández won the Dominican Republic´s May 16 election with 54 percent of the vote.
In his inauguration ceremony in Congress, Fernández called on lawmakers to debate and approve the bill.
The reform would combine the election of senators and deputies along with the presidential election and eliminate a clause prohibiting three consecutive elections to the presidency.
“We are conscious of the big challenges that we have ahead of us in the next four years,” Fernández said in his inaugural address.
Fernández also said that his priorities will also include fighting corruption and drug trafficking. He promised to increase social spending and maintain the country´s steady economic growth — the Dominican economy expanded 9.5 percent on average in the last three years.
Fernández said that foreign investment, which totaled US$1.7 billion last year, the highest in the country´s history, is necessary along with strengthening the agriculture sector and improvements in infrastructure. He added that he will try to move the Dominican Republic toward cheaper fuels and develop renewable energy projects.
Fernández also addressed the economic problems stemming from high fuel prices which, he said, only benefit oil-producing countries.
“The world cannot continue this way,” he said. “Greed and selfishness … and cheating to amass large fortunes benefitting a few can no longer be supported.” —Latinamerica Press.