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OSCE To Send 400 Monitors To Belarus Election

VIENNA, 10 February 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) today said that it will deploy some 400 observers to monitor the presidential election in Belarus in March.

OSCE spokeswoman Urdur Gunnarsdottir said the monitors will try to maintain the fairness of the voting process, ballot counting, and the tabulation of results. She said the observers will also assess how the electoral process complies with OSCE standards for free and fair elections.

The spokeswoman said 10 members of OSCE's election-monitoring staff are already in Minsk and will soon be joined by 40 long-term observers to follow the pre-election process at a regional level.

The election is widely expected to secure an unprecedented third term in office for President Alyaksandr Lukashenka.

The OSCE observed elections in Belarus in 2000, 2001, and 2004. It criticized them all for failing to meet international standards.

Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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