Belarus holds elections boycotted by opposition

AP News
Posted: Sep 22, 2012 8:01 PM
Belarus holds elections boycotted by opposition

MINSK, Belarus (AP) — Belarus is holding parliamentary elections Sunday without the main opposition parties, which boycotted the vote because of complaints over the detention of political prisoners and opportunities for election fraud.

The election must fill 110 seats in parliament, which long has been reduced to a rubber stamp by authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko. Lukashenko's landslide win in 2010 triggered a massive protest that authorities brutally suppressed, and any rallies after the parliamentary vote would be certain to draw a similar harsh response.

Lukashenko has ruled the ex-Soviet nation of 10 million people with an iron fist since 1994. Western observers have criticized all recent elections in Belarus as undemocratic.

The U.S. and EU have imposed economic and travel sanctions on Lukashenko's government over its crackdown on opposition groups and independent media.