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International Observers To Assess Belarus Elections

18 October 2004 -- International observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are expected today to give their assessment of the fairness of yesterday's elections in Belarus.

Opposition leaders have already condemned the vote, saying it was marred by large-scale fraud aimed at keeping President Alyaksandr Lukashenka in power.

Electoral officials early today said voters overwhelmingly approved a proposal to change the constitution to eliminate presidential term limits and allow Lukashenka to run for a third term in 2006.

Central Election Commission chairwoman Lidiya Ermoshina said a preliminary tally of all votes cast showed that more than 77 percent of voters approved the proposal.

Ermoshina said voter turnout was nearly 90 percent.

Voters yesterday were also choosing members of the largely powerless 110-seat House of Representatives.


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