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Belarus Voting Under A Dark Cloud

  • December 20th, 2010
  • Posted by EUEditor

minsk.pngThe beating of a leading opposition figure, as police blocked a protest in Minsk, looks set to characterise the 2010 elections in Belarus – as expected won by the incumbent President, Alexander Lukashenka.

minsk-2.jpgOpposition groups objected yesterday (19.12.10) that intimidation, and restrictions in the electoral system itself, had prevented them organising properly or campaigning among constituents.

As exit polls indicated a repeat of previous elections, with an overwhelming government majority, thousands joined protest marches, attempting to move into the centre of the capital city.

Vladimir Neklyavev, 64, a writer and leading opposition candidate was reportedly beaten unconscious and taken to hospital.

Alexander Lukashenka, 56, in office for 16 years, was quoted declaring there would be no protests in the central square, as he prepared for a fresh five –year term.

Successive elections in Belarus have been declared unfair by outside observer groups such as the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

Human rights violations have contributed to isolation of the Belarus government, aggravating its severe economic difficulties in the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

The European Union  has made financial assistance conditional on better reports on the human rights record and management of elections.

An opposition candidate was beaten at the time of the 2006 Presidential elections, and an extract from a current Wikipedia entry on voting in 2004 indicates the general tone of international concern about the situation in Belarus:

“Belarus is a state in which the president dominates. Opposition parties are allowed, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power. The 13–17 October 2004 elections, according to the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission … fell significantly short of OSCE commitments. Universal principles and constitutionally guaranteed rights of expression, association and assembly were seriously challenged, calling into question the Belarusian authorities’ willingness to respect the concept of political competition on a basis of equal treatment. According to this mission principles of an inclusive democratic process, whereby citizens have the right to seek political office without discrimination, candidates to present their views without obstruction, and voters to learn about them and discuss them freely, were largely ignored. A Council of Europe report describes the danger that politicians risk of being assassinated, summarising an investigation into allegations that the present head of the Belarusian Special Rapid Reaction Unit (SOBR), Dmitri Pavlichenko, assassinated two senior politicians, a businessman and a journalist in 1999…”

Reference

Al Jazeera, Doha, AP, Crackdown mars Belarus elections, 19.12.10. http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europe/2010/12/20101219182346531485.html, (20.12.10).

Alexander Lu , AP, Yahoo News, “Thousands try to storm govt building in Belarus”, 19.12.10.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101219/ap_on_re_eu/eu_belarus_election, (20.12.10).

Wikipedia, SF, Elections in Belarus,22.9.10.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elections_in_Belarus, 20.12.10).


Pictures

City of Minsk, geographicguide.net

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