Belarus leader seeks fourth term in vote

The ex-Soviet republic of Belarus holds a presidential election on Sunday from which President Alexander Lukashenko, who has held power since 1994.

Belarus leader seeks fourth term in vote

The ex-Soviet republic of Belarus holds a presidential election on Sunday from which President Alexander Lukashenko, who has held power since 1994, is expected to emerge with a fresh five-year mandate and a fourth term.

Unlike in 2006, the Belarus opposition has been unable to decide on a single candidate for the election.

He faces a challenge from a disparate crowd of nine opposition candidates ranging from a poet to businessmen but his critics failed to unite in the run-up to the vote and are little known even within Belarus.

The opposition has already declared the elections as fraudulent despite being given more freedom to campaign and 30 minutes of national airtime for each candidate -- unprecedented measures seen as Lukashenko's attempts to receive recognition from Europe.

Seven of the nine opposing candidates have already called on Belarussians to come to the capital's main square after polls close and denounce them as fraudulent.

Leading challengers include prominent Belarussian poet Vladimir Nekliayev, dissident politician Nikolai Statkevich and former deputy foreign minister Andrei Sannikov, who founded the popular Charter97.org website.

Polling stations open at 8 a.m. (0600 GMT) and close at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT).


Agencies

Last Mod: 20 Aralık 2010, 11:29
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