Fourth term formality for Lucashenko

As Belarus prepares to vote in Sunday's presidential election the result is not an issue as President Alexander Lukashenko looks set for a fourth term as president.

The west sees Belarus as the "last dictatorship in Europe" and accuses the 56-year-old of ruling the country of 10 million with an Iron fist, jailing opponents and gagging the media.

The President addressed his supporters:

"I just want to say one thing. My friends, whether you will go to the square or to the street or somewhere else, you will not get the country. We won't let you tear it apart because it's very dear to us."

Of the nine other candidates, Vladimir Neklyayev, a writer and leader of the "Tell the Truth" movement, is best placed to come in second. He is critical of the west's recent overtures to the man who has ruled Belarus since 1994.

It is a change in policy that angers Neklyayev:

"The EU makes the same routine mistake again of thinking it can mould a democrat out of a dictator. But here there is simply not the material for the sculptor."

Many analysts predict that Lukashenko faces a rough ride in his fourth term as the economy continues to falter.


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