OSCE Criticizes Belarus Vote As Not Free Or Fair
<div class="caption"><div class="watermark"> <a href="http://gdb.rferl.org/1F0FE739-1EEC-473C-886C-C0FF01CD625E_mw800_mh600.jpg" rel="ibox" title="Alyaksandr Lukashenka celebrating victory on March 19 (epa)"> <img alt="Alyaksandr Lukashenka celebrating victory on March 19 (epa)" src="http://gdb.rferl.org/1F0FE739-1EEC-473C-886C-C0FF01CD625E_w203.jpg" class="photo" border="0"></a></div><p>Alyaksandr Lukashenka celebrating victory on March 19 (epa)</p></div>PRAGUE, March 20, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) says Belarus's presidential election on March 19 did not meet standards for a free and fair vote.
In a statement, the OSCE says the "arbitrary use of state power and widespread detentions showed a disregard for basic rights."
It continued that the detentions of opposition figures ahead of the vote "raise doubts regarding the authorities' willingness to tolerate political competition."
That assessment was delivered in Minsk today by U.S. Representative Alcee Hastings, the special coordinator of the 500-member observer mission in Belarus.