Opposition withdraws from Belarusian vote

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Sept. 17, 2012, 1:59 p.m. | Russia and former Soviet Union — by Associated Press

President of the OSCE Parlamentary Assembly Riccardo visits a poling station in Minsk, on September 10, 2012, ahead of general elections in Belarus.

Associated Press

Associated Press

MINSK, Belarus — The Belarusian opposition is withdrawing its candidates from this weekend's parliamentary election.

The country's election commission confirmed on Monday that the United Civic Party and the Belarusian National Front have removed the names of their candidates.

The election is slated for Sunday but early voting starts on Tuesday, and people are allowed to vote early without giving any reason for it. Ballot boxes stand unguarded at polling stations for days, which observers have long described as an immense source for violations.

Western observers have decried all recent elections in Belarus as undemocratic.

The two parties' withdrawal leaves only a handful of opposition candidates.

Belarus' parliament is dominated by President Alexander Lukashenko's loyalists who normally run as unaffiliated candidates.

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