Belarus parliamentary election set for Sept 28

Belarus on Tuesday announced a Sept. 28 election to a parliament where the opposition holds no seats.

Belarus parliamentary election set for Sept 28
But a member of the liberal and nationalist opposition cast doubt on the vote and suggested little would change even if some of President Alexander Lukashenko's rivals got into the chamber.

Lukashenko last month said having opposition members in parliament would help Belarus's image but doubted parties would secure enough votes to win seats.

A presidential decree announced the date and a top official said new rules would allow opposition parties to play a role in the affairs of the Central Election Commission. No election in Belarus has been recognised as fair since the mid-1990s.

"I would like very much this time for the opposition to have no grounds to complain about us in any way," Nikolai Lazovik, the commission's secretary, told Reuters.

The United States and European Union have barred entry to Lukashenko and dozens of other officials on grounds that he rigged his landslide re-election in 2006.

Opposition activist Anatoly Lebedko said the main issue was how many opponents the president would allow into parliament.

"The only difference in the new parliament may be the addition of four, five or six opposition members," Lebedko told Reuters. Some in the West, he said, would endorse the poll.

"We don't need a few opposition members of parliament," he said. "What we do need is an honest election."

Lukashenko has been trying to cultivate better relations with the West, partcularly the European Union. Several detainees were freed from prison and Western ambassadors suggested a successful September poll would help end Belarus's isolation.

But Belarus's most prominent detainee, academic Alexander Kozulin, remains in prison after being convicted of helping stage protests against the president's re-election. Western states demand his release as a pre-condition for further talks.

Reuters
Last Mod: 24 Haziran 2008, 16:21
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