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Competition limited in Belarus elections-OSCE

September 24, 2012, 16:42 UTC+3

Some potential candidates from the opposition could not participate in the election at all

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MINSK, September 24 (Itar-Tass) — Observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) believe that the parliamentary elections that took place in Belarus on September 23 were not impartial, free and competitive, Matteo Mecacci, Special Co-ordinator, who led the short-term OSCE observer mission and head of the long-term observation mission of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) of the OSCE Antonio Milososki said at a press conference on Monday.

A total of 109 of 110 MPs were elected in the Belarusian parliamentary elections receiving an absolute majority with the necessary turnout, with only the constituency of Novobelitsky failing to elect a candidate in the first round. The nationwide voter turnout was reported to be 74.3 percent.

“This election was not competitive from the start,” said Matteo Mecacci. He noted that some potential candidates from the opposition could not participate in the election at all, as they were either in prison or have had a previous conviction for political reasons.

Mecacci added that “a free election depends on people being free to speak, organise and run for office, and we didn’t see that in this campaign. We stand ready to work with Belarus to take the steps forward that are in our common interest.”

Milososki for his part drew attention to the fact that “the lack of neutrality and impartiality on the part of election commissions severely undermines public confidence in the process.” According to him, “citizens should feel confident that their votes are counted as cast, but the lack of proper counting procedures or ways for observers to verify the results raises serious concerns.”

A preliminary report of the OSCE observation mission also stressed that “while early voting and election day procedures were assessed positively, the process deteriorated considerably during the count. A significant number of observers were not given a meaningful opportunity to observe the count and evaluated the process negatively in a significant number of the polling stations observed. The continued lack of properly delineated counting procedures meant that an honest count could not be guaranteed.”

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