Washington, DC - The United States welcomes the peaceful conduct of the October 11 presidential election in Belarus. However, we are disappointed that the elections fell significantly short of Belarus’ international obligations and commitments for free and fair elections, as demonstrated by reports from the OSCE ODIHR and Parliamentary Assembly election observation missions. These reports noted serious problems with the counting and tabulation of votes, the composition of territorial and precinct election commissions, as well as a lack of fundamental reform to Belarus’ flawed legal framework governing elections.

A free and vibrant media, space for civil society organizations and opposition parties to operate, and full access for international and domestic election observers are essential to ensuring free and fair elections. We commend the participation of opposition political parties and independent media, but the inability of international and domestic monitors to observe the vote count, and the almost complete absence of opposition party or independent members on election commissions, are inconsistent with these democratic processes and norms.

We call on Belarus to honor the U.S.-Belarus December 2010 joint statement in which “Belarus acknowledges that enhanced respect for democracy and human rights in Belarus remains central to improving bilateral relations and is essential to the progress of the country and its citizens.” Doing so will strengthen Belarusian sovereignty and independence, which the United States unequivocally and firmly supports, as was reaffirmed during a May 2015 bilateral dialogue on human rights and democracy, and pave the way to improved bilateral ties on the basis of democratic values and human rights.