U.S. disappointed by Belarus elections

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States expressed disappointment on Monday over elections in the former Soviet Republic of Belarus where opposition candidates failed to win a single seat.

"The United States is disappointed that the September 28 parliamentary elections in Belarus fell significantly short of international standards, and that the government of Belarus failed to uphold pledges for a transparent vote count," State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack said in a statement.

He urged Belarus to uphold its international commitments to hold genuinely democratic elections and respect for human rights. "Such steps are necessary in order for relations between the United States and Belarus to improve significantly," McCormack said.

In power for 14 years and under sanctions by Western nations, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko is seeking closer ties with the West after disputes over gas prices with key ally Russia.

A report by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe said that despite minor improvements over previous polls in Belarus, western monitors found the vote count had been plagued by problems and cheating and monitor access had been hindered in 35 percent of cases.

No election in Belarus, wedged between Russia and three EU states, has won Western approval since the mid-1990s.



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