Belarus needs a democratic evolution

Strasbourg, 20.03.2006 - “Alexander Lukashenko is a president with a tainted mandate” said Terry Davis, the Secretary General of the Council of Europe following the presidential elections in Belarus. “Some elections are stolen by tampering with people’s votes, others by tampering with people’s minds through threats, harassment and intimidation. Of course, the turnout and the margin of the victory of the incumbent president are suspiciously high, but the main problem with Sunday’s presidential elections is not so much that the regime may have cheated in the ballot box, but that it cheated in the run up to the elections. In a country in which freedom of expression and association are so thoroughly and aggressively suppressed, a vote is not an exercise in democracy, it is a farce.

It is true that President Lukashenko enjoys a certain degree of popular support because of his economic record. Some people believe that he would have won even if the elections were free and fair, but, judging from the level of repression in the run up to yesterday’s vote, Alexander Lukashenko is not one of them.

In the aftermath of the elections, the international community should focus on creating incentives for a peaceful and democratic transition. What Belarus needs is a democratic evolution.”

Council of Europe Press Division

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