The U.S. State Department has slammed the parliamentary elections in Belarus.
“The September 23 parliamentary elections in Belarus fell short of international standards and their conduct cannot be considered free or fair,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement on Monday.
“The preliminary assessment of the OSCE election observation mission found that the elections were ‘not competitive from the start.’ The observer mission cited the limitation of choice for voters, the lack of impartiality on the part of the election commission, and the lack of proper counting procedures,” Nuland said.
With 109 of 110 races decided, the Belarusian opposition failed to win any parliamentary seats in voting on Sunday, the Central Election Commission said on Monday. Voter turnout was 74.3 percent.
“The United States urges the authorities to take steps to meet Belarus’s international commitments to hold genuinely democratic elections and to foster respect for human rights,” Nuland said.
She added that “enhanced respect for democracy and human rights in Belarus, including the release and rehabilitation of all political prisoners, remains central to improving bilateral relations with the United States.”
The OSCE, which had 330 observers, said many prominent politicians "remained in prison or were not eligible to register because of their criminal record".
Representatives of five opposition groups and parties had denounced the vote as opaque and undemocratic, citing interference in the electoral process by the authorities. Observers from the CIS said the elections were free.
The Belarusian Central Election Commission said the opposition had resolved long before the election to try to discredit the vote in order to pander to a Western audience.