Int'l observers differ on Belarus' presidential election

MINSK, Dec. 20 (Xinhua) -- International observers have voiced different views on Belarus' presidential election, with the majority saying the Sunday vote was legitimate, free and democratic, but others disagreed.

Sergei Lebedev, head of the observing mission of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), told reporters Monday that "we recognize the election as legitimate. We have no doubts about that."

He added that observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) also shared his opinion, saying the polls were "transparent and democratic."

Belarus' Central Election Commission (CEC) announced Monday that incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko won another five-year term. Lukashenko garnered 79.67 percent of the vote in Sunday's election, the CEC said, with 100 percent of the votes counted.

Kasym-Zhomart Tokayev, deputy head of the OSCE observing mission, told reporters "the people of Belarus made their choice and the international community must respect it."

Tokayev, also the Kazakh Senate speaker, said "the people of Belarus voted for the incumbent president, and this choice will enjoy the respect of Kazakhstan."

Representatives from the Central Election Commission of the Russian Federation also said the ballot counting was transparent.

Also on Monday, the Interfax news agency quoted Russian President Dmitry Medvedev as saying "the elections in Belarus are an internal affair for Belarus. What is happening there ultimately is an internal affair of an independent nation."

However, the OSCE observing mission said the polls were flawed.

"Despite some improvements in the election legislation, the legal framework still does not adequately guarantee the conduct of elections in line with OSCE commitments," the OSCE mission said.

"Important aspects of the process are not fully regulated, including the lack of safeguards to ensure the integrity of early voting and the vote count," the OSCE added.

Belarus' CEC leader Lidia Yermoshina said the final election results would be announced in 10 days and the inauguration is scheduled for Feb. 19.

However, Lukashenko's victory was somewhat marred by opposition rallies held Sunday evening in downtown Minsk.

Several thousand Belarusians rallied to protest the election after the polls were closed.

The crowds were later dispersed and some protesters were arrested by riot police. The Interior Ministry said it was investigating the unrest.

Lebedev said the massive demonstration has nothing to do with the evaluation of the elections. But he admitted that some presidential candidates "have used the young people to protest the polls."

The election was the fourth one since Belarus claimed independence in 1991.


Partners: Social Network