OSCE mission head: Belarus presidential election improves

09:17, December 20, 2010      

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The observing mission head of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) said Sunday that the mission might give a higher assessment for the Belarus' presidential election.

"We have come to a common ground that this election can be assessed better than the previous one," said Gert Arens, head of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights ( ODIHR).

The final OSCE assessment will be released after the vote counting is completed.

Earlier Sunday at the No.1 polling station, an OSCE observer named Tobias Banmann, who was one of the two observers dispatched to the central district of Minsk to monitor the Sunday presidential election, told Xinhua that the OSCE headquarters would put together an assessment according to reports from 350 to 400 observers getting around the country.

By 4 p.m. local time (1400 GMT), 75.8 percent of Belarusians, or 5.376 million people, had cast their votes in the election, said the Central Election Commission (CEC).

Also by the time, one exit poll conducted by the ECOOM analytical center showed Lukashenko taking a landslide lead by gaining 76.42 percent of votes. Four of his nine rivals merely each garnered a little over 3 percent.

The poll was conducted at 100 polling stations with some 7,300 voters, according to ECOOM head Sergei Musiyenko.

Belarusians went to the polls Sunday in the fourth presidential election since the country gained independence in 1991.

Some 6,000 polling stations across the country opened at 8 a.m. local time (0600 GMT) and will close at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT).

Ten candidates, including incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko, will run in the polls. Lukashenko was widely expected to secure a fourth term.

Some 7.09 million voters were registered for the election, which will be monitored by around 1,000 international observers.

"As for preliminary estimates of the registration processes of candidates, collection of signatures, we assess these as good processes. We have seen a progress," Arens said.

Other observers, who mainly came from OSCE and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), also gave positive remarks on the election.

In total, three exit polls would be conducted during the election by ECOOM, the Belarusian Committee of Youth Organization and TNS-Ukraine company, with the final results immediately due after the voting was closed.

The other two exit polls so far have not been announced.

Source: Xinhua

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