Lithuania will not be sending any observers to monitor the presidential election in Belarus this weekend.
The country’s Foreign Ministry has told BNS that three Lithuanian diplomats residing in Belarus will observe the election, but Vilnius will not send its representatives.
Laurynas Kaščiūnas, a Lithuanian MP and the head of the Lithuanian parliament’s provisional group For Democratic Belarus, said the election would not be democratic, since President Alexander Lukashenko’s opponents were refused registration.
Moreover, the Board of the Seimas, parliament, has decided not to send MPs abroad due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The election process does not only include voting, it also includes conditions for fair competition. Such a thing has not happened in Belarus for the past 25 years, so observing the election is in fact meaningless,” Kaščiūnas told BNS.
“Naturally, the refusal to register key candidates is a violation and a proof of an authoritarian regime. The processes that have taken place so far show it’s not a transparent, democratic and fair process,” the politician said.
Laura Matjošaitytė, the head of Lithuania’s Central Electoral Commission, told BNS that it had not received invitations to observe elections in Belarus for the past several years.
“Our commission has not received invitations to observe elections. We used to receive them earlier, but we have not received them for the past couple of years,” she said.
Lithuania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent its election observers to Belarus for the 2015 presidential election, along with several politicians from the Seimas Delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, 65, has been in power for the last three decades and will try to secure a new six-year term on Sunday amid public dissatisfaction with his governance.
Lukashenko’s government has launched a crackdown on the opposition as the election day nears, while some of the would-be candidates have been detained.