Lukashenko becomes Belarus president for fifth term
Alexander Lukashenko, the incumbent Belarusian president, has won a fifth term as president of his Eastern European country with a sweeping victory over his three rivals.
The 61-year-old Lukashenko received 83.49% of votes in Sunday elections, sufficient to avoid a runoff and enough to enable him to enter his third decade of leading his country.
As for other candidates, Tatiana Korotkevich, the first woman to ever run for president in Belarus, got 4.42 percent of votes as a pro-democracy political newcomer, representing the Tell the Truth civic campaign.
Sergei Gaidukevich, the chairman of the Liberal Democratic Party who unsuccessfully ran in previous elections, received 3.32 percent of votes.
Nikolay Ulakhovich, the chairman of the Belarusian Patriotic Party, got only 1.67 percent of votes, while 6.4 percent of voters chose the “against all” option.
Chairperson of the Belarusian Central Election Commission Lidiya Yermoshina announced the results at a televised news conference. The results, however, are still formally considered as preliminary.
According to Yermoshina, Lukashenko got the lowest result in the capital Minsk where 65.58 percent of voters supported him, while an unusual figure of 20.6 percent opposed all candidates in the capital.
The voter turnout was said to be standing at 86.7 percent.
At the country’s helm for four consecutive terms since 1994, Lukashenko is Europe’s longest-serving leader.
From 1979 till 1991, Lukashenko was a member of Communist Party of Soviet Union. From 1991 to 1992 he was a member of Communists for Democracy party, and since then, he has been an independent politician.
Lukashenko’s re-election in 2010 led to mass protests and the imprisonment of some opposition figures.
The European Union has imposed sanctions on some Belarusian officials and companies over the government’s alleged clampdown on political dissent.
On Saturday, hundreds of opposition protesters marched in Minsk on the eve of the presidential election.
Belarus’ economy has recently been battered by a drop in the currency of its key trading partner, Russia.