Number of Belarus presidential candidates reduces to 15

MINSK, October 8 (Itar-Tass) - The number of candidates for the post of Belarusian president has been reduced to 15.

Chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party, one of the country's largest - Sergei Gaidukevich said that he has submitted an application to the Central Election Commission (CEC) with a request on the withdrawal of his candidature from the race. Explaining his decision to journalists he said that "elections in Belarus are a show the results of which are long known to all." He also noted that the party has shown that it has a potential.

The initiative group of Gaidukevich was the largest - 10,483 people and he said that less in a week it managed to collect the needed 100,000 signatures of the electorate required for the nomination as a presidential candidate.

Gaidukevich had taken part in the presidential election of 2001 and 2006. At the latest election he won 3.5 percent of the votes.

Another presidential candidate - Pyotr Borisov, last week withdrew from the race. He refused from running in the election in favour of co-chairman of the currently being created Belarusian Christian Democracy party Vitaly Rimashevsky.

The country's presidential election will be held on December 19. The initiative groups are currently collecting signatures for their nominees to the supreme state post. Aside from incumbent Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, the list of the contenders includes Belarusian poet and oppositionist, leader of the "Tell the Truth!" movement Vladimir Neklyayev, economist, deputy chairman of the opposition United Civil Party Yaroslav Romanchuk, first deputy chairman of the Belarusian Green Party Yuri Glushakov who positions himself as a moderate oppositionist, former deputy foreign minister of Belarus, leader of the European Belarus opposition movement Andrei Sannikov, opposition activist Alexei Mikhalevich, activist of the Belarusian Popular Front party Grigory Kostusev.

Belarus elects on the national level a head of state - the president - and a legislature. The president is elected for a five-year term by the people. The National Assembly has two chambers. The House of Representatives has 110 members elected in single-seat constituencies elected for a four-year term. The Council of the Republic has 64 members, 56 members indirectly elected and 8 members appointed by a head of state - the president. Belarus is a state in which the president dominates. Opposition parties are allowed, but are widely considered to have no real chance of gaining power. The 13-17 October 2004 elections, according to the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission, fell significantly short of OSCE commitments. Universal principles and constitutionally guaranteed rights of expression, association and assembly were seriously challenged, calling into question the Belarusian authorities' willingness to respect the concept of political competition on a basis of equal treatment.


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