Official start given to Belarus presidential election canvassing

MINSK, November 18 (Itar-Tass) - Belarus on Thursday officially kicked off campaigning in the presidential election scheduled for December 19. "After today's registration of presidential candidates they can start campaigning," chairwoman of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Lidia Yermoshina told reporters answering an Itar-Tass question.

Commenting on the results of the Central Election Commission's Thursday meeting at which 10 applicants were registered as candidates for the presidency, Lidia Yermoshina noted that "this is a great political career achievement of the nominees." Assessing the real chances to become head of state after the elections, Yermoshina noted that "one candidate has the real chance," without specifying. "This is good training for many politicians and today is a holiday for them," said Yermoshina. She noted that during the registration process, the CEC had made many compromise decisions, and all doubts were interpreted in favour of the presidential candidates. In particular, she noted that the CEC members found it possible not to draw attention to inaccuracies in the income of the presidential candidate, leader of the campaign "Speak the Truth" Vladimir Neklyayev.

Lidia Yermoshina noted that the 10 presidential candidates registered on Thursday will be put on the ballot. "The presidential hopefuls can withdraw from the election race only in the case of gross violations of electoral law," the CEC head noted. She noted that this could be, in particular, the use of foreign funds for the campaign. "We will try prevent this," she said.

According to the Belarusian news agency BelTa, the Central Election Commission of the country has registered ten people as candidates for the Belarus presidency. The candidates are incumbent president Alexander Lukashenko, as well as Grigory Kostusev, Alexei Mikhalevich, Vladimir Neklyayev, Yaroslav Romanchuk, Vitaly Rymashevsky, Andrei Sannikov, Nikolai Statkevich, Viktor Tereshchenko, and Dmitry Uss. The Central Election Commission has denied registration to Vladimir Provalsky because only 118 signatures he had submitted turned out to be genuine.

At the session of the Central Election Commission of Belarus all the registered candidates were able to submit their applications for the registration of authorized representatives and financial representatives. In line with Belarusian election laws every candidate can register up to 30 authorized representatives. CEC head Lidia Yermoshina said that after recent amendments to the Election Code, the candidates can nominate representatives to sit on the Central Election Committee in an advisory capacity.

The presidential candidates are supposed to make their speeches on radio and television on 22 November - 3 December, Lidia Yermoshina said as she met with OSCE ODIHR observers on 15 November. According to Yermoshina, after the candidates are registered, a random draw will determine when every candidate will make their speeches. The head of Belarus' CEC underlined that during the present election campaign the National Teleradiocompany has managed to provide prime time to the candidates. Their speeches will be broadcast at 19:00-20:00 on weekdays, when most voters return home and watch TV. On radio their speeches will be broadcast at 6:00-7:10 when most people eat breakfast before leaving for work. Lidia Yermoshina believes the new time periods are more preferable in comparison with 2006 when candidates were expected to make their speeches at 8:00-9:00 on radio and at 18:00-19:00 on television. The CEC head said that it is the first time in Belarus that presidential candidates can participate in televised debates. Asked whether these debates can be live instead of records, Lidia Yermoshina said that they were discussing the possibility with representatives of the National Teleradiocompany. All the organizational issues will be resolved by 26 November, the deadline for filing an application for taking part in the televised debates.


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