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Statement on upcoming elections to parliament and local councils in Belarus

February 21, 2024

To hold onto power and enforce total, fearful submission by its citizens, Belarus’ authoritarian regime has transformed itself into a totalitarian system. The human rights situation continues to deteriorate as the number of political prisoners grows and any dissenting voice is met with violence from the country’s security forces. Since the last presidential elections in August 2020, the regime has deepened and broadened its repression against independent media and journalists. All this makes Belarus one of the five countries across the globe with the worst records of human rights deterioration over the past five years, along with Afghanistan, El Salvador, Myanmar and Nicaragua, as presented in International IDEA’s Global State of Democracy Report 2023. Masses of Belarusian citizens, opposition parties and independent media, unwilling to bow to the regime, have been forced to leave the country, seeking safety in the neighboring democracies.

Against this backdrop, the regime is holding a vote for its lower house and local councils on 25 February 2024. In early April 2024, members will be selected to the Council of the Republic, the upper house of the country. This process will open the way to the appointment of the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly, a new body established through the latest constitutional amendment in 2022 and designed to perpetuate Lukashenka’s hold on power.

No free and fair elections can take place in this environment of total repression. Fearing an impartial and transparent assessment, Belarus has not invited international election monitors from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), where the country maintains membership. This will be the second time OSCE-ODIHR will not be able to observe elections in the country.

International IDEA deplores the antidemocratic actions of the Belarusian authorities. The Institute calls on the international community to unequivocally condemn these illegitimate elections, and to deepen solidarity and assistance for Belarusian citizens, civic and political actors advocating for democratic change in the country. Only through the concerted efforts of its citizens, pluralist political actors and the international community will Belarus be able to recover its democracy and ensure its peaceful co-existence with its democratic neighbors. 

Press contact

Alistair Scrutton
Head of Communications and Knowledge Management
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