International observers have concluded that “fundamental freedoms were disregarded” in parliamentary elections in Belarus in which not a single opposition candidate won a seat.
“These elections have demonstrated an overall lack of respect for democratic commitments.”
“We noted an overall disregard for fundamental freedoms of assembly, association and expression,” said Margareta Cederfelt, the leader of the OSCE’s short-term observer mission in Belarus.
The OSCE members also noted that although a large number of candidates applied for the elections, their participation was inhibited. In addition, they expressed their concerns about whether election results were counted and reported honestly.
“In a country where the power and independence of parliament are limited, and fundamental freedoms are restricted for voters and candidates, parliamentary elections are in danger of becoming a formality,” she added.
Maja Kocijancic, the Spokesperson for EU Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, described the elections as “a lost opportunity to conduct elections fully in line with international standards.”
“A number of key OSCE/ODIHR and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission recommendations remain unaddressed. In view of the presidential elections of 2020, it is crucial the Belarusian authorities resume work on comprehensive electoral reform without delay. This will also be key for achieving the full potential of EU-Belarus relations, building on the positive cooperation of the last three years,” the statement reads.
Meanwhile, election observers from the Moscow-dominated Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) rated the elections “transparent” and “democratic”.
Responding to the international assessment of the elections in Belarus, Anatoly Glaz, Head of the Information and Digital Diplomacy Office, Press Secretary of the Belarusian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, called them politicized and personal.
We hold elections for our country and people, not to please the external forces.
We regret that the OSCE mission, as in previous years, has failed to completely depart from politicized assessments and conclusions,” the representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
Belarusian Central Election Commission Chairperson Lidia Yermoshina also slammed the OSCE’s assessment of the parliamentary elections as shallow, one-sided and insufficiently substantiated.