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Belarus: Opposition Unites Against Lukashenka

Minsk, 21 July (RFE/RL) -- Opposition parties in Belarus said today that they have united behind a single candidate to run against President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in the September presidential election. Four leaders of opposition groups said they are withdrawing their candidacies and are backing trade union leader Uladzimir Hancharyk.

The four are Defense Minister Pavel Kozlouski, former Premier Mikhail Chyhir, former deputy parliament chairman Syamyon Domash, and Communist Party head Syarhey Kalyakin. They said they believe Hancharyk can beat Lukashenka if the election is fair.

Earlier this month, more than 24 opposition leaders in Belarus signed a letter accusing Lukashenka of violating that country's constitution and planning to steal the election.

The opposition leaders said Lukashenka plans to repeat the government's performance in last October's parliamentary elections, criticized by the West as unfair and invalid.