Two major opposition parties have pulled out of parliamentary elections in Belarus, saying the authorities ignored their demands aimed to ensure a fair vote.
The Belorussian People’s Front – the country’s oldest political party – and the United Civil Party agreed to run in the polls on September 23 provided the government releases political prisoners and allows party members to join electoral commissions.
But the demands were not met, which prompted the party to remove all its nominees for the vote, the Belorussian People’s Front said in a statement at its congress on Saturday. The United Civil Party announced a similar decision in a separate statement on Friday.
The United Civil Party was fielding 38 candidates, while the Belorussian People’s Front pitched 31. A total of 360 candidates for the 110 seats at the lower chamber of the country’s parliament were registered at the start of the campaign.
At least five districts will offer to alternatives to voters after the United Civil Party’s pullout, party leader Anatoly Lebedko said, Bfm.ru reported.
Not a single candidate opposing the authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko made it to the Belorussian parliament at the 2008 elections, which were denounces as undemocratic by the OSCE, but recognized as fair by the CIS observer mission.