Belarus sets a December date for a presidential vote

The Belarus presidential elections are set to be decided on the 19th December. Minsk, Belarus. 30/09/2010

Belarus elects on national level a head of state - the president - and a legislature. The president is elected for a five year term by the people. The National Assembly (Nacionalnoje Sabranie) has two chambers. The House of Representatives (Palata Predstaviteley) has 110 members elected in single-seat constituencies elected for a four year term. The Council of the Republic (Soviet Respubliki) has 64 members, 56 members indirectly elected and 8 members appointed by a head of state - the president.

Belarus is a state in which the president dominates. Opposition parties are allowed, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power. The 13-17 October 2004 elections, according to the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission, fell significantly short of OSCE commitments. Universal principles and constitutionally guaranteed rights of expression, association and assembly were seriously challenged, calling into question the Belarusian authorities' willingness to respect the concept of political competition on a basis of equal treatment. According to this mission principles of an inclusive democratic process, whereby citizens have the right to seek political office without discrimination, candidates to present their views without obstruction, and voters to learn about them and discuss them freely, were largely ignored.

A Council of Europe report describes the danger that politicians risk of being assassinated, summarising an investigation into allegations that the present head of the Belarusian Special Rapid Reaction Unit (SOBR), Dmitri Pavlichenko, assassinated two senior politicians, a businessman and a journalist in 1999.

Lawmakers in the Belarusian National Assembly have overwhelmingly approved a mid-December date for the country's presidential election, scheduling the polling nearly four months ahead of when strongman President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's third term is due to expire.


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