Issued by the U.S. Embassy
February 23, 2018
The United States notes with concern the administration of local elections in Belarus, which took place from February 13-18, 2018. Although some slight improvements occurred in elements of the candidate registration process and the campaign period, the elections overall fell short of Belarus’s international obligations and commitments to free and fair elections.
We regret that there have been no meaningful changes to the electoral process as recommended by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) and the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission. Unfortunately in the local elections, serious questions remained with respect to the integrity of the early voting process, methods used to incentivize citizens to vote, non-transparent and non-verifiable vote tabulation, non-pluralistic election commissions, and a restrictive media environment and legal framework.
We have urged the Government of Belarus, here and in Washington, to undertake serious reform of its election law and processes in line with OSCE/ODIHR and Council of Europe Venice Commission recommendations. We continue to urge the Government of Belarus to undertake these reforms as soon as possible so that Belarus can fulfill its international obligations and commitments in time for the next elections.
Strengthening democratic freedoms, including the electoral process, reinforces Belarus’s independence and sovereignty, which the United States continues to support fully. Continued positive steps in the area of fundamental freedoms remain an important ingredient for strengthening of bilateral relations.