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OSCE has doubts about vote in Belarus

  |   Sept. 24, 2012 at 12:23 PM
MINSK, Belarus, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- Parliamentary elections in Belarus weren't competitive from the start and the lack of neutrality was troubling, the OSCE said in a Monday statement.

Belarus had elections Sunday for the lower house of the legislative assembly. The country's election commission said about 74 percent of the eligible voters cast ballots, though members of the opposition challenged the legitimacy of the vote.

Websites administered by opposition parties were reportedly blocked Sunday evening.

"It was very interesting that websites were blocked only to Belarusian users, while people from abroad had access to them," Denis Sadovsky, a spokesman for the opposition Belarusian Christian Democracy party, said to Russia's RIA Novosti.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe expressed concerns about the vote count and the way in which the elections were conducted.

"This election was not competitive from the start," said Matteo Mecacci, who led an OSCE observer mission, in a statement. "A free election depends on people being free to speak, organize and run for office, and we didn't see that in this campaign."

The OSCE said more candidates were allowed to compete in the race but many influential opposition leaders remained behind bars.

"Arbitrary administrative decisions also constrained the field of contestants, limiting voters' choices," the OSCE stated.

The government in Minsk has been criticized by members of the international community for its lack of tolerance for dissent.

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