Belarus Votes in 'Fixed' General Election

World | September 23, 2012, Sunday // 12:21|  views

The election of the 110-member parliament in Belarus is considered a formality that will only strengthen the grip on power of President Alexander Lukashenko. Photo by EPA / BGNES

Voters in Belarus are going to the polls Sunday to elect the country's new parliament in what is seen by many an already decided outcome.

The election in the former Soviet State is boycotted by the two main opposition parties.

Opponents of President Alexander Lukashenko, who is widely considered "Europe's last dictator," have urged voters to stay away from the polls, telling them instead to go fishing, visit relatives, pick mushrooms or cook beetroot soup, BBC reports.

Lukashenko has ruled Belarus since 1994 and won in 2010 a landslide presidential election. During his many years in office, Belarus authorities have brutally suppressed the opposition.

The two strongest opposition parties - United Civic and the BPF - pulled out of the race about a week ago.

Two other opposition parties - Just World and the Belarusian Social Democratic Party - are still in the running and members of unregistered opposition movements, such as the Tell the Truth campaign, are listed as unaffiliated candidates.

Belarus officials maintain their State is democratic.

Central Election Commission Secretary Nikolai Lozovik, quoted by BBC, says the opposition was a "Western creation" and was unpopular in Belarus.

Lukashenko's 2010 election victory ignited violent clashes in the capital Minsk between security forces and thousands of opposition activists who claimed the vote had been arranged.

A number of opposition activists, and many people, including several opposition candidates, were arrested and jailed.

Eleven political prisoners are currently in jail and Amnesty International says authorities have also detained other opposition activists ahead of the election.

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Tags: Alexander Lukashenko, president, parliamentary, general, election, voters, Belarus, parliament


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