EU could impose Belarus sanctions

BRUSSELS, March 20 (UPI) -- The European Union Monday threatened to impose sanctions against Belarus because of alleged fraud in that country's weekend elections.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko won a landslide victory in the election, garnering 82.6 percent of the vote, the government announced. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the elections were not free and fair.

"In a number of instances, the results were completed in pencil, and the majority of observers were prevented from standing close enough to see the marks on the ballot," the OSCE report said, adding the vote count was "highly problematic."

Current EU President Ursula Plassnik of Austria said after a foreign ministers meeting in Brussels the group is studying the results to determine an "adequate response." She said that could include the "possibility of restrictive sanctions to those responsible," the EU Observer reported.

Belarusian opposition leaders have asked the international community to reject the election results.