STATEMENT BY JOHN KIRBY, SPOKESPERSON
Parliamentary Elections in Belarus
12 September, 2016
The United States welcomes the peaceful conduct of the September 11 parliamentary elections in Belarus. We recognize some improvements in the electoral process, and we note that alternative voices will be represented in parliament for the first time in 12 years. Still, the elections fell short of Belarus’ international obligations and commitments to free and fair elections, as detailed in the joint statement by OSCE/ODIHR, OSCE Parliamentary Assembly, and Council of Europe election observation missions.
The statement noted the authorities’ willingness to register more opposition candidates than in past elections. However, it also highlighted continued serious problems including: lack of transparency in the counting and tabulation of votes; the non-pluralistic composition of election commissions; a media environment that did not allow voters to make informed decisions; and a lack of reform to Belarus’ restrictive legal framework governing elections. We continue to encourage the Government of Belarus to undertake serious reform of its election law and processes in line with OSCE/ODIHR and Council of Europe Venice Commission recommendations.
Strengthening Belarus’ democracy will reinforce Belarusian sovereignty and independence, which the United States unequivocally and firmly supports, and will pave the way to improved bilateral ties.