Statement by the ad hoc delegation to the presidential election in Belarus on the election day on 19 March 2006

Brussels, 19 March 2006

MEPs call on Belarus authorities not to use violence

The European Parliament ad hoc delegation for the monitoring of presidential elections in Belarus called on the Belarusian authorities and people to respect democratic rights and to abstain from violence after polling stations closed. As thousands of people gathered in Minsk's main square, Bogdan Klich (EPP-ED, PL), who chairs the delegation, made an urgent appeal: "I call on the Belarusian authorities to abstain from violence against civilians who are peacefully exercising their fundamental right of expression and assembly tonight in Minsk."

"The government of Belarus will be held responsible for any use of force or violence against peaceful civilians and will face strong international response. I extend the full support of the European Parliament to the people of Belarus who tonight are manifesting their strong belief in a democratic and free Belarus in a peaceful manner," Mr Klich added.

Commenting on the conduct of today's presidential elections, Mr. Klich added: "I deeply regret that President Lukashenka has once again missed the opportunity to ensure the free, fair and democratic elections to which the Belarusian people are entitled."