Belarus holds parliamentary elections despite opposition boycott
Updated: 2012-09-24 09:03
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, accompanied with his son Nikolay, casts his ballot during the parliamentary election at a polling station in Minsk, Sept 23, 2012. The election on Sunday is likely to reinforce hardline President Alexander Lukashenko's grip on the small former Soviet country despite a boycott call from the opposition. [Photo/Agencies]
MINSK - Belarus held its parliamentary elections on Sunday without the participation of main opposition parties, and the country's Central Election Commission (CEC) declared the elections valid with voter turnout reaching 50 percent in the afternoon.
The two major opposition parties in the country - the People's Front and the United Civil Party - boycotted the Sunday vote, citing detentions of political activists and alleged election fraud.
The Belarusian parliament's lower chamber, the House of Representatives, has 110 seats to be filled - each representing one constituency in the country. On average, there are almost three candidates competing for every seat on offer.
Some 26 percent of registered voters took part in early voting of the parliamentary elections in the past five days, CEC Secretary Nikolai Lozovik said.
The elections were monitored by 762 foreign observers, mainly from the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The head of the CIS monitoring mission, Sergei Lebedev, said that the elections were held democratically.
"We suppose that the elections in Belarus were and are held quite democratically and openly. Besides, the course of the elections complies with national electoral legislation in Belarus," he said.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said that the election process can be called faultless.
"I would like to reiterate: we are conducting elections today not for the West. The main hero at the elections in this country is the Belarusian people," said Lukashenko when asked about possible Western reactions toward the vote.
Members of the local electoral commission empty a ballot box at a polling station after the parliamentary election in Minsk, Sept 23, 2012. [Photo/Agencies]