Monday, March 20, 2006

Belarus: As expected

Things are going as expected in Belarus. According to preliminary results, Alexander Lukashenko has won a landslide victory, gaining 82.6% of the vote, compared with 6% for the leading opposition candidate. The opposition is already crying "fraud" and demanding a new, free and fair poll - and they have some evidence of electoral violations, though we'll have to wait a few hours until the OSCE election monitors report to find out just how widespread they are.

Despite threats that protestors would be treated as terrorists, there has been a large protest in Minsk, with about 40,000 people gathering in October Square. Further protests are scheduled for tomorrow night. If this election campaign has achieved anything, it has shown people that they can stand up to the government - a lesson they will hopefully be able to put to good use next time round.