Sept. 22 - Belarus opposition parties call for voters to boycott parliamentary elections, calling the polls a sham and suggesting ways voters could more usefully pass the time. Sunita Rappai reports.
As Belarus prepares to go to the polls for a parliamentary election on Sunday - opposition activists vote to boycott the election. Both the United Civic Party and the Belarussian People's Front have opted to withdraw their candidates after calling the election a sham. Anatoly Lebedko, United Civic Party leader, said voters should go fishing or have a coffee with friends rather than participate in what he called a farce. Grigory Kostusev, deputy head of the People's Front said their goal was to demonstrate there were no real elections in Belarus. The poll takes place two years after a crackdown on protests following a presidential election that saw the hardline Alexander Lukashenko return to power for a fourth term. Many opposition activists were arrested after that protest with several handed prison terms. Lukashenko, described as Europe's last dictator by the Bush government, has condemned the decision not to participate. Western monitoring agencies have not declared an election in Belarus free and fair since 1995.