An anti-Lukashenka demonstrator in Minsk on March 19 waves an EU flag (epa)
March 20, 2006 -- The proposed Hamas-dominated cabinet in the Palestinian territories and President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's return to power in Belarus are expected to lead discussions at a European Union foreign ministers' meeting today in Brussels.
The ministers from the 25 EU member states are expected to consider the bloc's future financial aid to the Palestinians after Hamas on March 19 put forward a new cabinet list dominated by members of the Islamic militant group.
Hamas, which is officially listed by the EU as a terrorist organization, has so far rejected EU demands to recognize Israel and abandon violence so EU financial aid to the Palestinian territories can continue.
The EU ministers are also expected to consider Lukashenka's return to power -- after taking more than 80 percent of the vote on March 19, according to official results -- and opposition calls for the vote to be cancelled because of alleged fraud.
Belarusian students studying at an EU-funded university in Vilnius, Lithuania
WATCHING AND WAITING: The European Union repeatedly urged Minsk to conduct a fair and democratic presidential election on March 19. The EU external relations commissioner, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, said in a statement today that the recent arrests of Belarusian opposition figures are "unacceptable" campaign violations. Ferrero-Waldner repeated an EU threat of "targeted sanctions" against top Belarusian officials if the elections are not free and fair. However, the EU will withhold final judgment until March 20, when the bloc's foreign ministers meet in Brussels....(more)
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Click on the image to view a dedicated page with news, analysis, and background information about the Belarusian presidential ballot.
MEET THE CANDIDATES: Read brief biographies of the four candidates in the March 19 election.
Click on the image to view RFE/RL's coverage of the election campaign in Belarusian and to listen to RFE/RL's Belarusian Service.