Participants in opposition’s primaries on nominating a single candidate for the president of Belarus have refused to take part in the 2020 election. They consider holding elections in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic in the country unacceptable and criminal.
The opposition representatives believe that the decision to hold the presidential election is dictated by the desire to use a pandemic as an additional tool for further usurpation of authority and depriving Belarusians of voting rights. “Today, it is already clear that it is impossible to collect signatures for nominating candidates in a safe way for the voters’ health,” the statement reads.
They also see the announcement of the election campaign at the peak of the coronavirus spread in Belarus, the detention and arrests against of bloggers, journalists and activists as a demonstration of that “Lukashenko is going to hold onto power solely by force. Having lost the support of citizens, he intends to continue to rule the country exclusively through falsifications and repressions.”
“We believe that full participation in the election campaign in these conditions is impossible. We thank all the citizens of Belarus who took an active part in a popular voting procedures and for supporting our efforts to nominate a single candidate and have a real alternative to the current regime. We recognize that in the current circumstances it is impossible to implement all the procedures and determine a single candidate.”
In other developments, the start of the “For Belarus without a dictatorship!” campaign was announced. To organize legal protests, Yury Gubarevich, Olga Kovalkova, Nikolai Kozlov will form a joint initiative group and launch a campaign with the main goals: Lukashenko’s resignation, fair elections and systemic reforms for the new Belarus.
Opposition politicians also called on the deputies of the House of Representatives to postpone the date of the presidential election to a later period (not earlier than the end of November 2020), since no one can guarantee the safety of citizens during the election campaign until the end of the pandemic.
How did opposition’ primaries in Belarus go?
Recall that initially six people announced their intention to take part in the primaries. Among them were Nikolai Kozlov, the head of the United Civic Party, co-chairs of Belarusian Christian Democracy Olga Kovalkova and Pavel Sevyarynets, Yuri Gubarevich, the leader of the Movement for Freedom, Belarusian People’s Front Deputy Chairman Alexei Yanukevich and former MP Anna Kanopatskaya.
Anna Kanopatskaya was the firts one who was expelled from the race. On 16 March, Pavel Sevyarynets dropped out of the primaries, followed by Alexei Yanukevich. In mid-March, the candidates announced their decision to suspend their trips to the regions because of the coronavirus. Thus candidates lost the opportunity to score points as part of the primaries procedure in meetings with people.
And after the elections were set for August 9, another problem emerged: a single opposition candidate should have been determined by the end of May, but given the situation with the registration of the initiative group – it must be registered before 15 May – the primaries headquarters had to urgently decide who would become a single candidate.
The next presidential election in Belarus will be held on 9 August. Acting President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, deputy Oleg Gaydukevich and chairman of the Belarusian Social Democratic Party Sergey Cherechen, blogger Sergey Tikhanovsky, one of the leaders of Tell the Truth! Andrey Dmitriev and HTP Ex-Head Valery Tsepkalo expressed their wish to take part in the election.