Backgrounder: Presidential election in Belarus

Ten candidates, including incumbent Belorussian President Alexander Lukashenko, will run in Sundaty's fourth presidential election since the country gained independence.

Some 7.09 million voters have been registered for the polls, which will be watched by 930 international observers.

Belarus, with an area of 207,600 square km, has a population of 9.67 million. It borders Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine.

In July 1994, Belorussians had their first ever president, Lukashenko, who won two presidential bids later in September 2001 and March 2006.

In 2004, a constitutional referendum annulled the two-term presidential limit.

The current Belorussian Constitution stipulates that Belarus, as a presidential republic, is governed by a president and the National Assembly, a bicameral parliament comprising the lower and upper houses.

The president, directly elected by voters, has a five-year term and can seek unlimited reelection. The president also maintains such rights as holding referendums and parliamentary elections, dismissing parliament and nominating prime minister.

According to Belorussian election laws, the candidate who has won more than 50 percent of the vote shall claim victory. A second round of polls will be held within two weeks if no candidate passes the 50-percent threshold in the first round.

Besides Lukashenko, other major candidates for Sunday's polls include deputy leader of the United Civil Party Yaroslav Romanchuk, coordinator of the civil campaign "European Belarus" Andrei Sannikov and Tell The Truth! civil campaign leader Vladimir Neklyayev.

Belarus also permits early voting that usually starts five days earlier than the official voting day, allowing any citizen who can not come to the polling station on polling day to vote in advance.

This year, early voting was held on Dec. 14-18.


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