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White House Rejects Results Of Belarus' Vote

Newly reelected Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka attends a news conference in Minsk today (epa) March 20, 2006 -- The White House says it does not accept the results of Sunday's election in Belarus and has called for a new vote.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One as President George W. Bush flew to Cleveland for a speech, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said sanctions against Minsk such as travel restrictions "are things we will look at."

In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the United States backs the opposition's appeals for a re-run of the poll:

"We support [the opposition's] call for a new election. We will stand with the people of Belarus and back their aspirations to take their rightful place among the world's democracies," he said. "The United States is preparing to take serious, appropriate measures against those officials responsible for election fraud and other human rights abuses and will be coordinating these steps with the European Union.

"We call on the regime in Belarus to release immediately those detained during the campaign," McCormack added. "The international community will continue to scrutinize the actions of the Belarusian authorities, and we caution them not to harm, threaten, or detain those exercising their political rights."

Kremlin Congratulations

Meanwhile Russian President Vladimir Putin congratulated Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka on his reelection.

The Kremlin quoted Putin's message to Lukashenka as saying the results of the election show that the voters "trust in your course towards the further growth of the Belarus people's well-being."

However, Western bodies have denounced the election as neither free nor fair, including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Commission, and the Council of Europe.

Vladimir Rushailo, the head of an observer mission from the Commonwealth of Independent States, concluded that despite some technical violations, the elections took place within the requirements of Belarusian law.

(compiled from agency reports)

Election Day In Images

Election Day In Images

Click on the image to view a photo gallery of election-day events in Belarus.

THE BELARUS ELECTION: To view a complete archive of RFE/RL's coverage of the March 19 presidential election, click here.

To read and listen to RFE/RL's Belarus Service's coverage of the vote in Belarusian, click here.

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