(No. 404 - December 21, 2010 - 4:30 p.m. ET) The Honourable Lawrence Cannon, Minister of Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement regarding the December 19, 2010, presidential election in Belarus:
“Canada is deeply disappointed by the Government of Belarus’s conduct of the December 19 presidential election.
“The Statement of Preliminary Findings and Conclusions of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s International Election Observation Mission indicates that, despite certain improvements in the electoral environment, the presidential election was flawed. Two factors in particular cited by the Mission—the lack of transparency in vote counting and the limited access to state media for opposition candidates—raise serious questions about the validity of the official result.
“We will work with other free and democratic societies in developing our response to this situation.
“The Mission’s findings come as a disappointment. Canada hopes that the Government of Belarus will carefully study the OSCE recommendations and implement the changes necessary for the country to meet accepted standards for democratic elections.
“Canada is also very concerned about the arrest of opposition candidates during the violent crackdown against demonstrators that followed the election. We condemn the use of violence and call on the authorities to release those who were unjustly arrested. Reports of the intimidation and arrest of human rights activists and journalists are also very troubling. We call on the Belarusian authorities to account for the whereabouts and safety of those detained and to conduct transparent investigations into the violence. We remain concerned that the Government of Belarus continues to flagrantly violate the human rights of Belarusians and impede the country’s democratic development.
“Canada will uphold the restrictions on official contact and trade with Belarus put in place after the flawed presidential election of 2006. We will continue to cooperate with like-minded partners to encourage peaceful democratic progress in Belarus.”
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