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Lukashenko Set to Win Re-election in Belarus, Opposition Says Vote Rigged


19 March 2006

Exit polls in Belarus show President Alexander Lukashenko will win a third term by a landslide, while the opposition calls Sunday's election a farce.

The polls by a group the opposition calls pro-government show Mr. Lukashenko will win at least 80 percent of the vote.

Main opposition candidate Alexander Milinkevich denounced the election at a rally of thousands of supporters who defied an official ban on protests.

He said he will not recognize the results and demanded what he calls a new and honest election.

Many in the crowd waved the old Belarusian national flag that Mr. Lukashenko banned.

President Lukashenko has led Belarus since 1994. He claims to have support among many rural and older Belarusians.

But the United States has branded him Europe's last dictator because of his suppression of free speech and human rights. It has threatened sanctions if the vote is unfair.

Washington had also sharply criticized Belarusian authorities for jailing a number of opposition activists leading up to the election.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.



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