Presidential election date set in Belarus

Belarussian lawmakers have set December 19 as the date for the country's next presidential election, the state-owned BelTA news agency said Tuesday.

President Aleksandr Lukashenko's term will expire in early 2011. Lukashenko has been president of the former Soviet state since July 1994 and is considered by many to be Europe's last dictator.

In accordance with Belarus' constitution and electoral commission, the National Assembly of Belarus is required to set the date of the presidential election no later than five months prior to the expiration of the acting president's term.

All 108 members present during a session of the National Assembly's House of Representatives voted unanimously for the date, BelTA said.

The international community has assessed previous presidential elections in Belarus as unfree and unfair. According to the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the rights of expression, assembly and fair campaign have been violated during presidential rallies in the past.

Lukashenko, who has served three terms as president, has not announced his intentions.


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