RIGA - In accordance with the preliminary conclusions of the Election Observation Mission of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the parliamentary elections in Belarus held on Sept. 23 cannot be considered free and fair, said the Latvia Foreign Ministry in a statement, reports LETA. The Foreign Ministry states that despite slight improvements in the election process, Belarus still fails to meet a number of international commitments and fundamental principles of democratic elections. The lack of competition, neutrality and impartiality prevents from calling these elections free, fair and democratic.
“Although several political powers took part in these elections, regrettably, for various reasons, a number of well-known politicians were denied a possibility of participating and expressing their opinion on the developments in the country. Regrettably, international observers from several countries were also denied entry to Belarus,” the Foreign Ministry says.
The Latvian Foreign Ministry urges Belarus to take decisive steps in order to carry out reforms that would enable holding internationally recognized and democratic elections, as well as ensure respect for human rights in the country. The release of all political prisoners in Belarus would be the first positive step in that direction.
“Latvia is interested in good neighborly relations with Belarus, and it is important for us that Belarus would develop as a democratic and economically advanced county where human rights and the rule of law are respected,” the Foreign Ministry says.
Latvia was represented on the OSCE Election Observation Mission by six observers from the Foreign Ministry, Saeima and the Central Electoral Commission.
The AFP news agency reports that participation in Sunday’s ballot was reported at a massive 74.3 percent despite evidence of scant attendance at polling stations in the capital of the country often described as the last dictatorship in Europe.
An analysis of the list of those elected to the 110-seat chamber showed that only four non-ruling party members had made it into parliament.
The Belarus Central Election Commission also said the opposition - suffering badly under President Alexander Lukashenko since a 2010 vote ended in protests and mass arrests - appeared to have failed to win a single seat in parliament.