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Allegations mar Belarus polling


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#1    Talon

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Posted 17 October 2004 - 09:17 PM

Allegations mar Belarus polling
There have been allegations of vote-rigging in Belarus, where people are voting on whether the president should be allowed to stand for a third term.
Both the EU and US have cast doubts on whether the poll is free and fair.

But President Alexander Lukashenko responded to critics by saying the West had problems of its own with elections.

But the BBC has obtained photographs which appear to show ballot papers already marked with ticks for Mr Lukashenko being given to voters.

Irregularities

Alongside the referendum, Belarus is also voting for a new parliament.


On Sunday the BBC was shown what appeared to be evidence of irregularities in the voting.

A series of photographs from one polling station showed ballot papers which had already been marked with ticks beside Mr Lukashenko's name before they had been handed out to voters.

In one photo an elderly woman was given a marked ballot on arrival.

Another image shows further ballots on a table with boxes already ticked.

The head of the Belarussian electoral commission said the allegations were false but the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which is monitoring the elections, say they are investigating the claims.

Other reports said police had detained a number of people conducting an independent exit poll.

'Calm down' call

Correspondents say the ex-Soviet republic has become ever more isolated under Mr Lukashenko, in power now for a decade.

But after casting his vote in the capital, Minsk, Mr Lukashenko told the BBC Western countries had spent the last 10 years expressing concern about Belarus.

It was time now, he said, for the international community to calm down and to stop accusing his government of election fraud.

Mr Lukashenko's rule has been characterised by the closure of opposition media outlets and the prosecution of opponents.

With the next presidential election due to fall in 2006, he claims that a third term is for the good of the nation but his opponents have accused him of trying to become Belarus' leader for life.

Unlimited terms

The current constitution limits the president to two terms in office but he has already once extended his rule by means of a referendum.


In 1996 he prolonged his first five-year term by two years, to 2001.
He was then re-elected for another five years, in a poll which was criticised as undemocratic by Western observers.

Voters are now being asked whether the constitution should be amended to allow Mr Lukashenko to run for president as many times as he chooses.

For the poll to be valid, at least 50% of the electorate must vote.

Belarussians are also electing a new lower chamber of parliament - the House of Representatives, with as many as 332 candidates running for 110 seats.

There are currently just a handful of opposition MPs in the chamber.

Mr Lukashenko said the 700 international observers were welcome.

"Let them come and monitor - and don't think we are hiding something here," said Mr Lukashenko in the run-up to the poll.

But the US State Department has pointed to the Belarussian government's "persistent and serious infringements of human rights and democracy".

It expressed "serious doubts" that the vote would meet international democratic standards.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/3736312.stm


"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato

#2    Talon

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Posted 18 October 2004 - 02:19 AM

Lukashenko wins poll under cloud
There have been allegations of vote-rigging in Belarus where people have voted on whether the president should be allowed to stand for a third term.
Both the EU and US have cast doubts on whether the poll is free and fair.

A government-endorsed exit poll showed President Alexander Lukashenko heading for easy victory with more than 80% of the votes cast.

But an independent survey suggested Mr Lukashenko may not have gathered enough votes to change the constitution.

The poll, commissioned by the Baltic service of Gallup, said that if official turnout figures were taken into consideration less than the required 50% of the electorate could have voted yes.

A final result is expected on Monday.

Irregularities

Alongside the referendum, Belarus is also voting for a new parliament.


On Sunday the BBC was shown what appeared to be evidence of irregularities in the voting.

A series of photographs from one polling station showed ballot papers which had already been marked with ticks beside Mr Lukashenko's name before they had been handed out to voters.

In one photo an elderly woman was given a marked ballot on arrival.

Another image shows further ballots on a table with boxes already ticked.

The head of the Belarusian electoral commission said the allegations were false but the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which is monitoring the elections, say they are investigating the claims.

Other reports said police had detained a number of people conducting an independent exit poll.

'Calm down' call

Correspondents say the ex-Soviet republic has become ever more isolated under Mr Lukashenko, in power now for a decade.

But after casting his vote in the capital, Minsk, Mr Lukashenko told the BBC Western countries had spent the last 10 years expressing concern about Belarus.

It was time now, he said, for the international community to calm down and to stop accusing his government of election fraud.

Mr Lukashenko's rule has been characterised by the closure of opposition media outlets and the prosecution of opponents.

With the next presidential election due to fall in 2006, he claims that a third term is for the good of the nation but his opponents have accused him of trying to become Belarus' leader for life.

Unlimited terms

The current constitution limits the president to two terms in office but he has already once extended his rule by means of a referendum.


In 1996 he prolonged his first five-year term by two years, to 2001.
He was then re-elected for another five years, in a poll which was criticised as undemocratic by Western observers.

Voters are now being asked whether the constitution should be amended to allow Mr Lukashenko to run for president as many times as he chooses.

For the poll to be valid, at least 50% of the electorate must vote.

Belarusians are also electing a new lower chamber of parliament - the House of Representatives, with as many as 332 candidates running for 110 seats.

There are currently just a handful of opposition MPs in the chamber.

Mr Lukashenko said the 700 international observers were welcome.

"Let them come and monitor - and don't think we are hiding something here," said Mr Lukashenko in the run-up to the poll.

But the US State Department has pointed to the Belarusian government's "persistent and serious infringements of human rights and democracy".

It expressed "serious doubts" that the vote would meet international democratic standards.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/3736312.stm


"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato

#3    Celumnaz

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Posted 18 October 2004 - 02:33 PM

yeech.  I hope they can protect their constitution.  already having amended it for a longer term was a BIG mistake.


#4    Talon

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Posted 19 October 2004 - 01:01 AM

Observers deplore Belarus vote
The weekend elections and referendum in Belarus "fell significantly short" of international standards, western observers say.
The referendum approved the lifting of a constitutional ban on a third term for President Alexander Lukashenko.

"Democratic freedoms were largely disregarded by the authorities" said the head of the OSCE observer mission, Tone Tingsgaard.

Opposition demonstrators marched in the capital, Minsk, to condemn the polls.

There were scuffles with police late on Monday, as more than 1,000 people shouted anti-Lukashenko slogans.

The president has run the ex-Soviet republic with an iron grip since 1994.

Results questioned

The Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said the Belarus authorities had "failed to ensure the fundamental conditions necessary for the will of the people to serve as a basis for authority of government".


Both the EU and US earlier questioned whether Sunday's poll was free and fair.

The head of the Belarus electoral commission said preliminary results showed Mr Lukashenko had won 77.3% of the votes and the turnout was nearly 90%.

But an independent survey suggested Mr Lukashenko may not have gathered enough votes to change the constitution.

The poll, commissioned by the Baltic service of Gallup, said that if official turnout figures were taken into consideration less than the required 50% of the electorate could have voted yes.

Belarus has become ever more isolated under Mr Lukashenko, whose rule has been characterised by the closure of opposition media outlets and the prosecution of opponents.

Irregularities

Alongside the referendum, Belarus was also electing a new lower chamber of parliament. Final results are expected soon.


On Sunday, the BBC was shown what appeared to be evidence of irregularities in the voting.
A series of photographs from one polling station showed ballot papers which had already been marked with ticks beside Mr Lukashenko's name before they had been handed out to voters.

In one photo an elderly woman was given a marked ballot on arrival. Another image shows further ballots on a table with boxes already ticked.

The head of the Belarussian electoral commission said the allegations were false.

Other reports said police had detained a number of people conducting an independent exit poll.

Protest planned

The website of the Belarus human rights group Charter 97 said the authorities had "rigged the referendum and the elections".

"Not a single democratic candidate has made it into parliament," it said.

The current constitution limits the president to two terms in office, but Mr Lukashenko has already once extended his rule by means of a referendum. In 1996 he prolonged his first five-year term by two years, to 2001.

He was then re-elected for another five years, in a poll which was criticised as undemocratic by Western observers.

With the next presidential election due to fall in 2006, he claims that a third term is for the good of the nation, but his opponents have accused him of trying to become leader for life.


Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/3752930.stm


"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato

#5    Talon

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Posted 20 October 2004 - 11:40 AM

Dozens arrested at Belarus rally
Hundreds of opponents of the Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko have held a second night of demonstrations in the capital, Minsk.
Three opposition leaders were said to be among at least 30 people arrested in clashes with police.

One of the opposition leaders is said to be in hospital after being beaten.

The protesters say a referendum held on Sunday which allowed Mr Lukashenko to stand for a third consecutive term as president was fraudulent.

'No to tyranny'

The mostly young demonstrators marched on the presidential residence, waving banners reading "No to tyranny", when the clashes broke out.

United Civic Party leader Anatoly Lebedko was said to have been rushed to hospital suffering from a fractured skull, broken ribs and a blood clot in his liver.

"He was beaten severely, he was bleeding and in bad shape, but emergency medical personnel weren't allowed to treat him," United Civic Party deputy chairman Alexander Dobrovolsky told the AFP news agency.

"The commander of the riot troops ordered he be hit," he added.

Two other opposition leaders, Nikolai Statkevich and Pavel Severinets, were also arrested, the Interfax news agency reported.

An Associated Press photographer, Sergei Grits, was also detained.

More than 1,000 people demonstrated against the results on Monday.

They clashed with police and accused Mr Lukashenko of being a dictator.

Foreign observers in Belarus have criticised Sunday's referendum and parliamentary elections.

The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe said the referendum fell significantly short of democratic norms.

The president has run the ex-Soviet republic since 1994.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/3758032.stm


"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato

#6    Talon

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Posted 21 October 2004 - 09:00 PM

Belarus angered by US sanctions
Belarus has attacked a US decision to impose sanctions in response to a controversial referendum which could allow the president to stay in office.
Minsk said the move was an unfriendly act reminiscent of the Cold War, and reserved the right to retaliate.

Sunday's referendum led to three nights of opposition protests in Belarus.

But election officials say nearly 80% of voters backed the poll, which allows President Alexander Lukashenko to stand for a third consecutive term.

The opposition says the result was achieved through fraud and intimidation.

The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) which sent dozens of observers, reported widespread problems with a simultaneous vote for parliamentary elections.

Pressure

US President George W Bush responded to concerns about the election and referendum with the Belarus Democracy Act which provides for sanctions against Belarus.

The act calls for the promotion of democracy by supplying aid to non-governmental organisations, helping to establish an independent media and a ban on US federal agencies from giving any financial aid to the country.

Belarus foreign ministry spokesman Andrey Savinykh said Belarus could take measures against the US in retaliation.

"The Republic of Belarus will continue to aim for mutually beneficial relations in international affairs, but we reject any attempts at diktat and pressure from the USA," he told Belarussian TV.

"In these circumstances, Belarus reserves the right to adopt retaliatory steps."

The president has run the ex-Soviet republic since 1994.

Story from BBC NEWS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/worl...ope/3764092.stm


"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato

#7    wunarmdscissor

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Posted 22 October 2004 - 12:27 PM

So when we goin to spread the sweet smell of freedom lol.?

theres no oil

who said that ...

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saorsa na h-alba

#8    Talon

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Posted 22 October 2004 - 03:06 PM

QUOTE
So when we goin to spread the sweet smell of freedom lol.?

theres no oil


Yep, pretty much, all they get are sanctions ... what did they ever acheive barring staving the people.

"Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something." -Plato




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