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Belarus: OSCE Parliament Again Rejects Lukashenka Delegation

Munich, 8 July 1998 (RFE/RL) -- The parliament of the Organization for security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) said yesterday the Belarus parliament created by president Alyaksandr Lukashenka was not democratic and would not be accepted as a member.

The statement came after the OSCE parliamentary assembly, meeting in Copenhagen, refused to recognize the Lukashenka loyalists who arrived to attend the meeting. Instead it accepted the credentials of a rival delegation representing the democratically-elected parliament which President Lukashenka dissolved in 1996.

A statement issued by the OSCE parliamentary assembly last night recalled that a similar situation occurred at last year's annual meeting of the assembly. At that time also, the parliamentary assembly refused to accept the Lukashenka loyalists but did recognize the rival delegation.

Last night's statement says the OSCE parliamentary assembly "recognizes the 13th Supreme Soviet as the legitimate parliament of Belarus and its delegation as the official representatives to the OSCE assembly."

The 13th Supreme Soviet was elected in 1995 through direct elections but was replaced by Lukashenka in 1996 with a parliament of his own choice.

A OSCE spokesman said last night: "it is important to make clear that the Parliamentary Assembly recognizes only democratically-elected bodies. It will not recognize any parliament in Belarus that is not elected in a democratic vote of the people."

The Parliamentary Assembly sent a special delegation to Belarus earlier this month to observe the political situation and to consider whether the Lukashenka-appointed parliament should be accepted. The delegation concluded that it found "no reason" to change the decision to reject the Lukashenka loyalists.

At yesterday's session in Copenhagen, the OSCE parliamentary assembly called on the Government of Belarus to "establish conditions for the conduct of free, fair and open parliamentary elections in accordance with the commitments it accepted when it joined the OSCE."

The Parliamentary Assembly has been urged by some members to create a special working group on Belarus. It would take an active role in supporting the OSCE office which was opened in Minsk in February with the goal of helping to develop democracy in Belarus and facilitate national reconciliation.