Belarusian Elections Regarded Valid - Central Election Commission

MINSK. Sept 28 (Interfax-West) - As at 2 p.m. on Sunday over 50% of registered voters in Belarus had cast their ballots in parliamentary elections, Interfax was told at the Central Election Commission (CEC).

"In the country as a whole 50.3% of voters took part in the voting," a spokesman specified.

Vitebsk region held the lead in terms of turnout with 60.7% of its voters casting their ballots by 2 p.m. Gomel region came second with 53.2%, Mogilev third with 52.7%. They were followed by Minsk region with 51.1%, Grodno region with 49.5% and Brest with 47.4%. In the city of Minsk the turnout was 40.7%.

CEC head Lidia Yermoshina told a press conference that the average turnout in Belarus exceeded 50%.

She said that by now elections can be regarded to have been held in 54 out of 110 electoral districts: five in Brest region, in 13 out of 14 in Vitebsk region, in 11 out of 17 in Gomel region, seven out of 13 in Grodno region, nine out of 17 in Minsk region and eight out of 13 in Mogilev region.

Yermoshina said: "Voting is over at almost all polling stations in hospitals." "In one hospital a woman refused to vote, therefore the polling station has not been closed in the hope that she will change her mind," the official said.

Quoting the Defense Ministry she said voting was over at 19 polling stations in army units.

"CEC is receiving a small number of complaints requiring mainly explanations related to procedures. Some candidates still have complaints related to canvassing," she said.

Yermoshina said that CEC had received two negative reports from the Joint Civic Party. "The Interior Ministry flatly denied one of them relating to ballot-stuffing," she said.

Besides, there was a report that observers had photoed the sign of a seal on a ballot-box that changed two hours later. "All these are assumptions," she said.

Earlier reports said that over 26% of voters had taken part in early voting.

Belarus is holding parliamentary elections on Sunday, in which 110 deputies will be elected to the national parliament's House of Representatives.

Over 260 candidates are running, and about 60 of them represent the United Democratic Forces. Among the candidates there are about 30 current parliamentary deputies.



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