Opposition shut out in Belarus election

MINSK, Belarus, Sept. 29 (UPI) -- Opposition leaders say Belarus election results in which only supporters of President Alexander Lukashenko won parliamentary seats are evidence of fraud.

Among the 110 Belarussian parliamentary seats up for grabs Sunday, opposition parties fielded 70 candidates but only pro-Lukashenko deputies were elected to the lower chamber, The Guardian reported. Despite Lukashenko's pledge of free and fair elections, the results brought protests from his opponents.

"Again there are no democratic elections in Belarus," Vintsuk Vechorka, the co-chairman of Belarus' main opposition group, the United Democratic Forces, told the newspaper. "The house of representatives can't be considered democratic since members will be nominated by Mr. Lukashenko's finger."

Lukashenko pointed to his allowing in 400 election monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe as proof the elections were fair, saying, "We are conducting the elections by the dictates of the OSCE."

The Guardian said the group was to deliver its assessment Monday. It cited European diplomats who say that while they didn't expect the election to conform to strict standards of democracy, it may show small signs that Belarus is improving.



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