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EU chief urges Belarus vote be counted ‘accurately’

 

BRUSSELS: The president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on Monday called for Belarus to publish accurate results for its presidential election, after Alexander Lukashenko claimed a disputed victory.

“Fundamental rights in Belarus must be respected,” von der Leyen tweeted. “I call on the Belarusian authorities to ensure that the votes in yesterday’s election are counted and published accurately.”

Von der Leyen, who heads the European Union’s (EU) executive arm, also criticized the crackdown on opposition supporters protesting the result of the election, which the Belarus election commission says Lukashenko won with 80 percent of the vote.

 

“Harassment and violent repression of peaceful protesters has no place in Europe,” she said.

A separate EU statement declared that “election night was marred with disproportionate and unacceptable state violence against peaceful protesters.”

Lukashenko’s Russian neighbour President Vladimir Putin has congratulated him on his win, but several EU member states have protested and the German government has voiced “strong doubts” about the conduct of the poll.

The president of the European Council, which represents the 27 member state governments in Brussels, Charles Michel, has received a letter from Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki calling for an emergency EU summit.

Initially, however, the crisis will be put on the agenda of a meeting of EU foreign ministers due in Berlin at the end of the month, and may be added to the agenda of a full EU leaders’ summit planned for September 24 and 25.

Brussels has yet to threaten new sanctions on Belarus, but the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and its commissioner for neighbourhood policy Oliver Varhelyi said: “We will continue to closely follow the developments in order to assess how to further shape the EU’s response and relations with Belarus in view of the developing situation.”

“We condemn the violence and call for the immediate release of all detained during last night. The Belarusian authorities must ensure that the fundamental right of peaceful assembly is respected,” their statement said.

“Following their unprecedented mobilisation for free elections and democracy, the Belarusian people now expect their votes to be counted accurately. It is essential that the Central Electoral Commission publishes the results reflecting the choice of the Belarusian people.”

 

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