Minsk brings forward date of Belarus presidential elections

Belarus CEC Chair Lidia Yermoshina

The parliament in Minsk yesterday set the date for the next Belarus presidential election at October 11, about a month earlier than originally planned. The decision has  intensified a debate among opposition parties on whether to put forward candidates for an election all but certain to be won by Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled the former Soviet republic with an iron grip since 1994.
After Lukashenko won a fourth term in 2010 with what election officials said was 80% of the vote, mass protests broke out on the streets of Minsk which were violently broken up by police. Hundreds of protesters  were arrested as well as seven of the nine candidates that ran against Lukashenko. Two of them were later sent to prison, where one still remains.
A further controversy surrounds the government’s decision to withdraw state funding for candidates’ campaign material,  although the chairwoman of the Central Election Commission (CEC) Lidia Yermoshina was putting a positive spin on this. “Now a candidate can finance their entire campaigns,” she told Belta this week. “They were previously only allowed to contribute  up to 50%.”  

Source: foxnews