Pro-Government Parties Dominate Belarus Vote

Posted September 24th, 2012 at 6:05 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

Parties supporting Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko have dominated a parliamentary vote boycotted by the country's main opposition parties.

Election officials announced 109 winning candidates Monday – none of them opposition members.

Main opposition parties declined to take part in the vote to protest what they said was election fraud, along with the detention of political prisoners.

Opposition members and independent observers said the reported voter turnout of more than 74 percent was inflated by an early voting process that may have been a source of fraud.

Matteo Mecacci, who heads an observer team from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, said the early voting turnout was high. He called the system “peculiar.”

Mr. Lukashenko, who has ruled the country for 18 years, responded to the boycott by calling the opposition “cowards” who have nothing to say to the people.

The government violently cracked down on a pro-democracy march in Minsk after the 2010 presidential election, which Mr. Lukashenko won in a landslide. A number of opposition candidates were detained.

The United States has called Mr. Lukashenko Europe's last dictator for suppressing free speech and human rights, stifling the opposition and rigging elections.

The United States and the European Union have imposed economic and travel sanctions on the Belarusian government for its crackdown on opposition groups.