BELARUS : Belarussian opposition will push for democratic reform

Belarussian opposition forces are determined to push for democratic changes in the country, Belarussian Popular Front Chairman Vintsuk Vyachorka said at a seminar in Vilnius.

“There is no need to talk about the colors of a revolution. We know that it will be Belarussian,” Vyachorka said. “We understand that we should make changes with our own hands,” he said.

United Civil Party leader and a possible opposition presidential candidate Alexander Lebedko told the seminar that public opinion surveys show that incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko will receive 38% of the vote, while a candidate standing for reform will get 48%.

The Belarussian opposition is consolidated in its opinion about the need to pursue democratic reforms, separate the branches of government, and protect human rights, Vyachorka said.

While the coalition of democratic forces unites not only political parties, but also nearly 200 civic organizations, the Belarussian opposition has not yet agreed on a common presidential candidate, he said.

Lithuanian parliamentary deputy Rasa Jukneviciene, who took part in the seminar, called on the European Union to work out a proper policy towards Belarus. “Elections in Afghanistan are now held more freely than in Belarus,” said Jukneviciene, who recently returned from Afghanistan.

The presidential elections in Belarus are slated for 2006. In October 2004, Belarussian voters approved a constitutional amendment in a referendum under which the same person can be president for an unlimited number of terms.

The seminar on Belarus, organized by the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, is being attended by parliamentarians from the NATO member- states, members of international organizations, Belarussian non- government organizations, Lithuanian and foreign political experts, and Lithuanian government officials.

The Belarussian Embassy in Lithuania regretted that official representatives from Minsk were not invited to the seminar.

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