EP urges Belarus to end crackdown

The European Parliament (EP) has urged Belarus to end the crackdown on the opposition, calling for immediate release of opposition candidates and activists.

"I condemn the arrests of people who found the courage to protest against the rigging of the presidential elections" said the EP President Jerzy Buzek. "It is so regrettable that the Belarusian regime, by its undemocratic actions, continues to deny the Belarusian people their well-deserved European future."

Belarus officials have detained 600 demonstrators to suppress the protests against the re-election of Alexander Lukashenko. At least seven of the presidential candidates were among the detainees.

Electoral commission figures were issued on Monday, indicating Lukashenko has been re-elected for another 5-year term with almost 80 percent of the votes.

Yet, tens of thousands of people have challenged the election and regard it as fraud. The secret counting of the votes by the government employees is considered a major issue.

Lukashenko, who has won a fourth term in office, has openly denounced the opposition.

Both the United States and the European Union have called for the urgent release of the presidential candidates and the protesters.

"Despite some limited improvements, once again the elections in Belarus fell short of meeting international standards of free, fair and transparent elections," said Buzek.


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