Belarus poised for presidential campaign

In Belarus, a date has been set for the country's presidential election. Parliament has agreed December 19 for the poll in which long-time leader Alexander Lukashenko is expected to run for a fourth term.

The road to the polls could prove rockier for Lukashenko, who is seen as authoritarian, than previous campaigns which he has dominated.

The country's mighty neighbour Russia could dent the current president's aspirations rather than any opponent. Once strong relationships have hit a low. Earlier this year, Russia partially cut natural gas supplies for three days over a debt for previous deliveries. That is just one of several disputes. Russian television has aired three documentaries accusing Lukashenko of widespread corruption.

Analysts point to public discontent over rising consumer prices which could also affect the vote.

As many as 10 potential contenders have expressed initial interest, which must be confirmed within 10 days.

Observers denounced the results of the last elections in 2006, saying the vote had been rigged.


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