Two opposition candidates make it to Belarusian parliament

September 12th, 2016   Belarus | News | Theme: Belarus

The Central Election Committee announced that two opposition candidates have won seats, after the results of yesterday’ September 11 elections, in which the composition of the 110-seat lower house of parliament was to be determined. Lidiya Ermoshina, the head of the Minsk-based central electoral committee, gave a preliminary turnout estimate of 74.32 percent. Of the 521 candidates that ran in the elections, 176 represented opposition parties.

The elections were monitored by more than 400 observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE).

The Central Election Commission said Anna Konopatskaya of the United Civil Party won a mandate as well as Independent candidate Yelena Anisim, who has links to the opposition. Konopatskaya and Anisim will be the first opposition parliament deputies in Belarus since 1996. Parliament has been and will continue to be dominated by allies of the country’s strongman president, Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The former Soviet republic has drawn repeated criticism for failing to hold fully democratic elections and suppressing opposition parties. Belarus has not held a vote free or democratic since the early 1990s, and authorities routinely punish dissent and keep a tight lid on the media in the post-Soviet country of around 10 million people.

The opposition’s gains are a nod to Lukashenko’s efforts to improve his country’s relations with Western countries as Belarus struggles to recover from an economic crisis that has hammered its ruble, fueled inflation and triggered a recession.

The results come after President Alexander Lukashenko said he wanted the opposition to “exist” and “be constructive.” “I don’t want the opposition to be a fifth column in the country,” he told reporters after casting his vote.

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