2009 01/12
Уладзімер Лабковіч, Менск

Uladzimier Labkovich, Меnsk

Members of the House of Representatives are working on changes to electoral law. The new bill was presented to them by chair of the Central Election Commission Lidzia Yarmoshyna. In case all the amendments and changes are approved by the Deputies, then two laws are 40 articles of the Electoral Code will have to be corrected.

Changing the electoral law is one of the well-known 12 EU’s requirements to the authorities of Belarus. Brussels calls upon the authorities to bring the Belarusian election rules in line with the recommendations of the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights.

However, Aliaksandr Lukashenka says that the improvement of electoral legislation emanates from the leadership of Belarus. On November 24 the amendments to the Electoral Code on his behalf came to the Parliament. A day earlier head of state gave the chair of the Central Electoral Commission the following warning:

“The elections must pass peacefully, as they used to pass. Pay no attention to that squeaks, squeals in the country and from abroad. We must work quietly and do our work. These elections must be fair, just and open. So if our laws must be improved for that sake, it must be done expeditiously.”

The most important of those additions and changes that are being considered by the deputies — that in each of the electoral commission, except for the Central Commission, not less than 1/3 of seats will be allocated to representatives of political parties and public organizations. Parties will have the opportunity to nominate their candidates in the constituencies where they do not have local offices. It is planned to allow candidates for deputies to create personal financial assets.

Initially it was planned that the new version of the electoral law would have a separate norm about the rights of observers at the counting of votes. However, the papers to be considered today, do not mention that. Why? Lidzia Yarmoshyna explains:

“Article 13 will not be changed. It will change – it will more systematically set out the rights of observers, that is, their rights of drawing reports, writing statements, etc. will be moved from another article. The thing is that the discussion came to a conclusion – the rule in such a very harsh wording may restrict the rights of members of electoral commissions. And so we decided not to introduce this change.”

Lawyer Uladzimir Labkovich, together with colleagues developed an alternative electoral law. He was very indignant that the rule about the rights of observers remained unchanged:

“It is like that only because the authorities, as usual, are going to control the electoral process entirely. And this clearly proves that the Belarusian authorities do not have the desire to hold democratic, free and transparent elections. It’s one of the most basic requirements of the international community in the area of free elections, at least by the OSCE/ODIHR and the recommendations of the Belarusian democratic opposition. They have thrown out a procedure that is available in all other countries, even far from exemplary democracy – in Russia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine … It provides that the observer does not merely attend the vote count, but may be present where he or she can see the correct calculation of votes”.

Consideration of the election bill in the second reading is scheduled for December 10.

Source: www.spring96.org,

Prepared by Ales Leta,


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