MINSK, Belarus (AP) - The authoritarian leader of former SovietBelarus is promising to lower barriers for opposition candidates seeking office.
President Alexander Lukashenko saidNov. 10that parliament should pass legislation relaxing strict registration requirements for candidates before local elections next year and a presidential vote in 2011. He also suggested allowing candidates self-financing and permitting opposition groups to monitor voting.
The promises appear aimed to please the European Union, which has slapped travel sanctions on top Belarusian officials and called for democratic reforms. Lukashenko has been seeking to improve ties with the West without losing the support of neighboring Russia.
He says Belarus is willing to carry out other reforms urged by the EU but needs time to do so.