Lukashenko says outsiders won't meddle in Belarus vote

LIDA, Belarus, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Belarus will not let any other country meddle in its December presidential election, incumbent Alexander Lukashenko said on Saturday, a day after announcing he would seek a new five-year term.

"There will be no external interference in the situation in our country," said Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994. "Neither from Russia, as some would have us fear, nor from the West, nor America."

The 55-year-old Lukashenko, who controls most media in the state-dominated country of 10 million between Poland and Russia, promised the election process would be "transparent and honest".

Analysts say Lukashenko is likely to win the election on December 19 easily, with the opposition not as united as during the last election in 2006.

He is one of 15 registered contenders and Russian media have speculated in recent weeks that the Kremlin might try to back one of his rivals.

Lukashenko said that should the Kremlin try to influence the election, it would only benefit him and his leadership.

"All of the dirt has been to our advantage, not theirs," Lukashenko told journalists during a visit to Lida, a city of around 100,000 in western Belarus. "Please, God, let them keep acting as brainlessly as they've been so far."

Lukashenko, who broke up protests that erupted after the opposition disputed the official presidential vote count in 2006, said he was not afraid.

"Those who played the West's violin yesterday are playing Moscow's balalaika today," he said. A former close ally of Russia, Lukashenko has been increasingly critical of his mighty neighbour, feuding frequently on issues ranging from trade and Russia's energy subsidies to Minsk, to custom duties.


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