Composition of election commissions confirms decision to withdraw candidates before vote
Anatol Lyabedzka, chairman of the United Civic Party (UCP), and Ryhor Kastusyow, deputy chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front (BPF), said in interviews with BelaPAN on Friday that the composition of the newly formed precinct election commissions for the forthcoming parliamentary elections proved the correctness of their parties’ decisions to withdraw their parliamentary candidates before the vote.
According to the central election commission, five out of the 240 nominees of the UCP and 12 out of 158 nominees of the BPF became members of precinct election commissions.
"It’s obvious that the UCP is on the authorities’ black list," Mr. Lyabedzka said. "The composition of precinct election commissions proves the correctness of the ‘Fair Elections without Lukashenka’ strategy that we chose for the current election campaign," he said. "This is the only proper reaction on the present state of affairs. Acting in accordance with the authorities’ rules of the game is a dead-end for opposition forces and advocates of change."
According to Mr. Lyabedzka, the non-admission of pro-democracy forces’ representatives to precinct election commissions became another proof that "nobody is going to hold elections and count votes." "We’ll decide whether we should leave those five people on precinct commissions. Probably, we’ll withdraw them in protest," he said.
Mr. Lyabedzka dismissed as absurd a claim by Mikalay Lazavik, secretary of the central election commission, that the UCP nominated criminals to precinct election commissions. "Our people had no criminal records. Many of them were convicted of minor civil offenses for their opposition activities. There are some 30 such people on my team," Mr. Lyabedzka said. "This doesn’t mean they are bad people and unable to count votes. On the contrary, those whom the authorities included in election commissions are government criminals because they falsified previous elections voluntarily or by compulsion."
"It is clear that the authorities want the people they have chosen to become members of the House of Representatives," said Mr. Kastusyow. "That’s why they did not admit representatives of the BPF and other pro-democracy organizations to election commissions."
The BPF had expected such an outcome, Mr. Kastusyow noted. "We announced as far back as January that if our people were not included in precinct commissions and if political prisoners were not released, we would withdraw our candidates five days before the vote," he said.
Mr. Kastusyow added that the BPF would use the election campaign as an opportunity to raise public awareness of the situation in the country. "We realize what kind of country we live in and what people are in power in Belarus," he said. "So we have no alternative. We won’t participate in the election farce in accordance with the authorities’ scenario," he said.