OSCE could give higher assessment to Belarus elections

Belarus presidential elections could receive a higher assessment of the OSCE observers than the 2006 election, the head of the OSCE/ODIHR election observation mission said on Sunday.

"We have come to a common ground that this election can be assessed better that the previous one," said Gert Arens.

He said however the final OSCE assessment will be provided after the vote counting was completed.

Belarus is holding presidential elections on December 19. A total of 10 candidates are running for presidency. Incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko is set to secure a landslide victory and claim a fourth term, according to exit polls.

The latest exit poll results showed that Lukashenko gained 76.42% of the vote while four of his nine rivals won slightly over 3% each.

In the 2006 election, the Belarusian leader won 83% of the vote. The OSCE gave a negative assessment to the election campaign. Following the election, the EU imposed visa sanctions on the president and Belarus officials.

This year, 1,032 international observers and 18,000 local observers have been accredited to monitor the elections. The polls are covered by over 1,000 foreign journalists.

"As for preliminary estimates of the registration processes of candidates, collection of signatures, we assess these as good processes. We have seen a progress," Arens said.

Arens also marked that this year candidates received more opportunities to meet with their supporters and voice their opinion on the radio and television. However, he said despite the progress, the conditions for the candidates fell short of being equal.

Observers from the Russian parliament said they were satisfied with Sunday's election in Belarus.

"We saw neither big nor insignificant violations of the electoral legislation," a member of the observer mission, Dmitry Novikov said.

MINSK, December 19 (RIA Novosti)


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