The leaders of four opposition political parties met with visiting OSCE/ODIHR experts

“The system established by Alyaksandr Lukashenka has nothing in common with free and fair elections…”

 

The leaders of four opposition political parties on March 7 met with visiting experts of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) to discuss Belarus’ electoral regulations and amendments proposed by authorities to the Electoral Code.

ODIHR senior election adviser Tatyana Bogussevich and election adviser Lusine Badalyan were told that the proposed amendments would hardly fundamentally change the election process in Belarus.

It is currently advantageous for the Belarusian authorities to simulate some activity for international organizations to treat them better, said Anatol Lyabedzka, chairman of the United Civic Party (UCP). “They are ready to discuss the placement of commas but are not going to contribute to making elections free and fair,” he said, according to the UCP press office.

Mr. Lyabedzka warned that while talking with representatives of the Belarusian government, ODIHR experts should always remember that they deal with “swindlers and faker who have 20 years’ experience of fraud.”

The system established by Alyaksandr Lukashenka has nothing in common with free and fair elections, he stressed.

It is important not to overvalue the number of alterations but to focus on three or four things, which include the formation of election commissions, the counting of votes and the abolition or strict regulation of early voting, Mr. Lyabedzka suggested.

Alyaksey Yanukevich, leader of the Belarusian Popular Front (BPF), pointed out that the process of amending the Electoral Code should be made public and transparent.

“I am glad that the opinions expressed by all representatives of Belarus’ pro-democracy organizations during the meeting were not dissonant with each other,” he said, according to the BPF press office.

Mr. Yanukevich noted that opposition forces’ proposals largely coincide with the ODIHR’s recommendations. “It is very important to legislatively guarantee the transparency of ballot-counting to ensure that all members of precinct commissions and observers are able to see each ballot,” he said.

However, he noted, the transparency of ballot-counting is not enough for elections to be free and fair. It is equally necessary to release all political prisoners, stop suppressing dissent and not to deny registration to parties and NGOs, he suggested.

Also participating in the meeting were Syarhey Kalyakin, leader of the “Spravyadlivy Svet” Belarusian Party of the Left, and Vital Rymashewski, co-chairman of the unregistered Belarusian Christian Democracy party. //BelaPAN