Sunday, October 24, 2004

Radio Free Europe

gives us the lowdown on the goings on surrounding the "election" to cement Alexander Lukashenko's position as emporer.

The Central Election Commission on 21 October released the final results of the 17 October referendum vote on lifting the constitutional two-term limit on the presidency in Belarus and giving President Alyaksandr Lukashenka the right to run for a third term in 2006, Belapan reported. According to the commission, 6.31 million people, or 90.28 percent of eligible voters, cast ballots in the referendum that lasted six days, including the early voting procedure. The commission reported that Lukashenka's proposal to open the path to a presidency-for-life was supported by 5.55 million people (79.4 percent of all eligible voters) and opposed by 692,000 people (9.9 percent of all eligible voters). Rasa Alisauskiene, director of the Baltic branch of the Gallup Organization, told RFE/RL's Belarus Service on 21 October that, according to an exit poll conducted by her organization in Belarus, Lukashenka's proposal to lift the constitutional curb on the presidency was backed by just 48.7 percent of the entire electorate, thus failing to overcome the 50 percent threshold required for introducing constitutional amendments.

That and other information concerning the opposition protests and the silencing of journalists here.

So, who do you believe? Gallup or the Belarussian state party apparatus?

Pravda's English language website celebrates with the following headline which just makes my stomach turn.

Belarus president Lukashenko has a right to reign forever

Even they, however, can't completely ignore the questions surrounding this dog and pony show:

The parliamentary elections and the national referendum in Belarus had been considered successful already by 3:00 p.m. local time. The Central Electoral Committee did not register any serious incidents or violations during the voting.

Spokesmen for the united electoral headquarters of the Belarussian opposition, however, said that the election law of the country had been roughly violated during the referendum and the elections to the parliament on October 17th.

Looks like the in-laws won't be joining the western world anytime soon. The new iron curtain hangs where your train changes wheels at Brest.


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