Poles travel to Belarus on election-watch

Almost 40 Poles are travelling to Minsk as observers in the 19 December presidential elections in Belarus.

Poles will account for a tenth of the total number of the OSCE observers in the country, said spokesperson for Poland's Foreign Ministry, Marcin Bosacski.

"They will make sure that the elections will run smoothly on all the rungs of the process, from the polling stations, the district and regional commissions, to the central electoral commission. The observers will ensure that there are no forged ballots cast in the voting urns and that the entire process progresses efficiently and legitimately," he told Polish Radio.

Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski has called on Polish media to dispatch journalists to cover the course of the ballot:

"I would like to appeal to the Polish media as I have to the foreign media outlets, to descend on Belarus and take a closer look at the elections," he said.

During a meeting with Sikorski and German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle in Minsk in early November, President Alexander Lukashenko promised to adhere to democratic standards during the elections.

The EU is trying to lure President Lukashenko - once described as the "last dictator in Europe" - to improve his human rights record in return for increased aid to the ex-Soviet nation, as part of the Polish led Eastern Partnership programme.

Ten candidates are running for president in the elections.

Belarusians will be able to cast their ballot as of tomorrow, in line the country's regulations opening the polling stations five days prior to the election date.

Over 400 OSCE representatives will monitor the presidential race.

Alexander Lukashenko, who was accused of falsifying the elections to his advantage four years ago, is expected by many to win a fourth term as president.


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