Presidential Election Campaigns underway in Belarus

Presidential election campaign underway in Belarus, posters of presidential candidates in Mahilyou Oblast and Uladzimir Nyaklyaeu from the Moving Forward movement, campaigning in Minsk, Belarus. 23/11/2010

The elections commission in Belarus has registered 10 candidates for next month's presidential election, including authoritarian incumbent Alexander Lukashenko.

The registration closed Thursday with a record number of contenders for the post. But although that appeared to indicate growing political activity in the tightly controlled country, opinion surveys cast doubt on whether Lukashenko is in danger of losing his bid for a fourth term in office in the Dec. 19 ballot.

The presidential candidate Vladimir Niakliaeu stated on the Belarusian radio on November 23 that he intends to eradicate the fear prevailing in Belarus. "I'm the new president, Vladimir Niakliaeu, will abolish this fear. Everyone is free to speak out his points of view, and act in accordance with these believes," the leader of the campaign "Tell the truth!" said.

According to the candidate, if elected president, he guarantees implementation of human rights, which will be "strictly protected by law." The politician plans to change the political system of Belarus, the essence of which is a clear division of powers, thus, making it impossible "even theoretically to return to a dictatorship in the future - never and nobody."

His closest challenger, Alyaksandr Milinkevich, pulled out earlier this month, saying he believed the poll would be rigged.

The European Union and the United States have long shunned Lukashenka, accusing him of maintaining power through illegitimate elections and suppressing dissent.


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