Brok, Protasiewicz, Kaczmarek : Belarus elections have fallen short of democratic standards.

September 24, 2012

Commenting on the elections in Belarus, Elmar Brok MEP, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament, Jacek Protasiewicz MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament, and Filip Kaczmarek MEP, Chairman of the Delegation for Relations with Belarus, said:

“We regret that the conduct of parliamentary elections in Belarus has again fallen short of democratic standards. Despite some minor improvements in the elections’ legal framework, leading, for example, to an increase in the number of candidates put forward by political parties, the Belarusian authorities failed to use this chance to conduct fair and transparent elections. According to the OSCE/ODIHR preliminary findings and conclusions, these elections were not competitive, and there were many cases where the Belarusian Electoral Code, which was supposed to increase campaigning opportunities, was violated.

A large number of democratic opposition candidates were denied registration on the grounds of minor inaccuracies in their income and property statements or through the invalidation of ballot-access signatures. Many of them were not allowed to be part of the electoral commissions.

Although the candidates were entitled to a five-minute speech on state-owned media, these messages had to be pre-recorded and airtime was refused to numerous candidates, especially those who called for boycotting the election. In consequence, a large number of candidates from the opposition parties were unable to communicate their position to the voters.

We were very disappointed to hear that many students and employees of state-owned companies were forced into early voting under the threat of losing their scholarships and jobs. Furthermore, we strongly condemn the detention of journalists, obviously aimed at controlling the free flow of information by not letting them exercise their regular work duties and hence violating one of the most basic freedoms – the freedom of speech.

It is evident that with none of the democratic opposition candidates elected to the national parliament and with the political prisoners still in jail, the Belarusian authorities remain defiantly deaf to the numerous calls of the international community, and have decided to take another step away from democracy and to further isolate their country.

We urge the Belarusian authorities to review their actions, improve and upgrade the electoral legislations and conduct new free and fair parliamentary elections in line with international standards. We urge them to release all the political prisoners and respect their own people by protecting the latter’s basic freedoms and by letting them enjoy their basic rights.”

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