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MINSK, September 17 (Itar-Tass) — Two hundred ninety four Belarusian candidates will run for 110 seats in the country’s parliament on September 23.
“The number of candidates has decreased. We can say that there are 294 candidates at the moment,” Lidiya Yermoshina, the head of the Belarusian Central Electoral Commission, said at a meeting with representatives of foreign embassies on Monday.
She said that the Belarusian Popular Front and the United Civil Party had withdrawn more than 60 candidates from the election race. Some candidates pulled out individually.
Thirty-one activists of the Belarusian Popular Front and 35 candidates of the United Civil Party will lose their deputy mandates as of September 17.
The Belarusian Popular Front decided to withdraw their candidates because the authorities have failed to fulfill two conditions: to free imprisoned opposition leaders from jail and include all representatives of the party in district and local election commissions.
“Our decision to withdraw our candidates will help us preserve a clear and honest position and will facilitate our work with Belarusian society. Deputy candidates from the Belarusian Popular Front carried out a great deal of work for Belarus’ future. They took part in debates, printed their party programs and held hundreds of meetings with people,” the party leader, Alexei Yanukevich, said.
The Belarusian Popular Front is calling on voters to refrain from voting because there are no fair elections in Belarus.
Anatoly Lebedko, the leader of the United Civil Party, said that the party had used a new tactics for the first time. It can be called as “guided boycott”. The opposition party managed to battle through to the media which were illegally monopolized by the regime. Participation in debates produced a positive reaction in society. Meetings, pickets and leaflets became additional means of communication with citizens,” Lebedko said.
For her part, Lidiya Yermoshina noted that the withdrawal of several opposition candidates had increased the number of non-alternative constituencies. “There are at least ten of them now. It’s bad,” Yermoshina stressed.
Earlier, she said that the recent actions by the opposition showed that Belarusian election laws allowed their free interpretation. “Those who don’t want to participate in elections and want to thwart them showed that we should improve our laws, making in stricter in some way,” Yermoshina said.
Early voting will start in Belarus on Tuesday.