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MINSK: Belarus prepared yesterday for general elections that most of the opposition has boycotted and branded the worst yet during the 18-year rule of strongman leader Alexander Lukashenko.
While the opposition has called on voters to skip today’s ballot and go fishing or visit relatives in the countryside, the authorities have announced a series of concerts and fairs on main squares on
With the ruling party in command, campaigning is hardly visible in the capital, where rare banners announce the polls and drab stands stock black and white fliers about local candidates, most of them state employees.
“I am not going to vote because it is not an election,” Sergei, a Minsk teacher, said. “I don’t know any of the candidates, and I would not call our parliament a parliament because it has no initiative of its own.”
The last legislative election in 2008 resulted in a sweep for Lukashenko loyalists, a scenario expected to repeat itself again.
The 110-strong body had initiated only three bills in the past four years, observers say, with most of legislation coming from the president’s office for a formal stamp of approval.
Only a handful of opposition candidates remain on the ballot papers after the two main opposition parties pulled out a week before
Lukashenko has dismissed calls for a boycott as a sign of weakness by candidates who he said are bankrolled by the West.