Updated at 18:07,08-09-2017

NGO, opposition coalition launch campaign to monitor presidential election

Naviny.by

An NGO pushing for democratic elections and an opposition alliance have announced the start of a joint campaign to monitor this years presidential election.

Speaking in Homyel earlier this week, representatives of the Campaign for Free Elections and the Talaka alliance said that they would seek to mobilize as many activists as possible ahead of the election.

Viktar Karnyayenka, co-chairman of the Campaign for Free Elections, warned that the organizations planned to observe the entire election campaign, from the establishment of election commissions to vote counting.

The main objective of the campaign is to deploy as many observers to polling stations as possible, according to Mr. Karnyayenka. People should come to polling stations and see with their own eyes what is happening there, and then there will be no need to persuade them of anything, he said. When people see how ballots are counted they will understand everything.

Voters in Belarus view elections as a ritual that has nothing to do with a change of government, the way it was in the Soviet Union, said the activist.

He said that seminars and mobilization and information events would be held in the framework of the campaign.

Although most people are still not in favor of political changes, the countrys current economic troubles offer opposition forces an opportunity to reverse the trend, said Mr. Karnyayenka. In the past people were not eager to join election observation, because they were satisfied by the social contract offered by the government. Today people are facing a host of problems because of the governments incompetent actions.

Yury Varonezhtsaw, a member of the board of the Lew Sapieha Foundation, stressed that the widespread perception of opposition forces activities as Sisyphean labor was wrong. If we dont do that, that doesnt mean that others wont do that. And when some rapid changes take place, the way it was in the 1980s and 1990s, some third force will appear and take the initiative, he warned.

The Talaka coalition comprises the United Civic Party, the Spravedlivy Mir (Just World) Belarusian Party of the Left, Belaruski Rukh (Belarusian Movement), the Belarusian Party of Working People, the Nadzeya Belarusian Womens Party, the Campaign for Fair Elections, and Maladaya (Young) Belarus.