Election in Belarus frustrates Washington

Sept. 25, 2012 at 2:15 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Sept. 25 (UPI) -- The government in Belarus is called on to take steps necessary to honor commitments to democracy following controversial elections, the U.S. government said.

Belarus had parliamentary elections Sunday. The country's election commission said more than 70 percent of the eligible voters cast ballots. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, however, said the election wasn't competitive and an OSCE observer said there was a general lack of political freedom during the campaign.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said respect for democratic principles and human rights remained central to improving bilateral affairs.

"The United States urges the authorities to take steps to meet Belarus's international commitments to hold genuinely democratic elections and to foster respect for human rights," she said in a statement.

The White House in June extended a national emergency with respect to Belarus because Minsk was accused of undermining democratic processes in the country.

Several opponents of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko were imprisoned following December 2010 elections.

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

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