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U.S. 'Disappointed' Belarus' Election Not Free, Fair

The United States said it was "disappointed" by the presidential election in Belarus, saying it fell short of the former Soviet republic's international commitment to holding polls that are free and fair.

U.S. State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said international observers had noted "serious problems" with the October 11 vote, which elected strongman Alyaksandr Lukashenka to a fifth term as president by a landslide of 83.5 percent.

The problems included the inability of international and domestic monitors to observe the vote count and the almost complete absence of opposition party or independent members on election commissions, Toner said on October 12.

"A free and vibrant media, space for civil society organizations and opposition parties to operate, and full access for international and domestic election observers are essential to ensuring free and fair elections," he said.

The 61-year-old Lukashenka crushed his nearest rival, opposition candidate Tatiana Korotkevich, who won just 4.42 percent of the vote.

Based on reporting by AFP and TASS

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