Belarus Vote `Fell Short' of International Standards, OSCE Says

By Sebastian Alison and Henry Meyer

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- A parliamentary election in Belarus fell short of international standards, with a ``barely visible campaign'' and cases of ``deliberate falsification of results,'' international observers monitoring the vote said.

``Despite some minor improvements, the Sept. 28 parliamentary elections in Belarus ultimately fell short of OSCE commitments for democratic elections,'' the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the continent's main rights and democracy watchdog, said in a statement today.

The OSCE deployed about 450 observers from 43 countries, the statement said. They noted that the vote count was ``bad or very bad in 48 percent of polling stations visited. Where access was possible, several cases of deliberate falsification of results were observed.''

President Alexander Lukashenko's allies claimed all 110 seats in parliament in the election, which the former Soviet republic hoped would gain international recognition for the first time since 1996. The opposition won no seats, Lidiya Yermoshina, head of the Minsk-based Central Elections Committee, said during a press conference broadcast on Belarusian state television. Turnout was 75.3 percent.

The OSCE said cooperation granted to the observers by the Belarus authorities ``was considerably improved'' and that voting ``was generally well conducted.'' It added that this could serve as the basis for ``a close post-election dialogue'' that could improve the conduct of elections in the future. It said ``substantial improvements are required'' for Belarus to hold a democratic election.



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