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Ex-Dominican Republic president defends budget record amid unrest over deficit, tax boost

The Dominican Republic's previous president is defending his record amid intense public anger over plans to raise taxes to help close a budget deficit incurred under his government.

Former President Leonel Fernandez insisted in a nationally televised speech Tuesday night that there was nothing fraudulent about the Caribbean country's $4.6 billion deficit.

Fernandez left office in August and says the deficit largely stems from shortfalls in government revenue as well as public works projects that were approved by lawmakers. He also defends his successor's plan to close the gap with increases in the sales, property and fuel taxes.

The speech Tuesday night was a rare national address by a former president.

Fernandez spoke just days after thousands of people marched in protest in the Dominican Republic's two largest cities.