Dominic Raab calls for new 'free and fair' election in Belarus

5 November 2020, 15:25 | Updated: 5 November 2020, 15:38

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has called for fresh elections in Belarus
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has called for fresh elections in Belarus. Picture: PA

By Ewan Somerville

Dominic Raab has called for Belarus to hold fresh elections after a "damning" report into the country's presidential contest.

The Foreign Secretary said in a statement: "We pushed for this independent investigation and it has exposed the fraud at the heart of the presidential elections and the despicable actions taken by Lukashenko's regime to suppress the Belarusian people.

"New elections which are free and fair must now be organised, and those responsible for the violence against demonstrators held to account."

The Foreign Office said the report found August's election had been "falsified" and that President Alexander Lukashenko had violated human rights.

There has been a wave of protests since the August election of Alexander Lukashenko
There has been a wave of protests since the August election of Alexander Lukashenko. Picture: PA

Last week factory workers, students and business owners in Belarus have gone on strike to demand that President Alexander Lukashenko resign after more than two months of continuing mass protests.

The walkout was called by opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who only 10 per cent of the vote when the results of the election were announced on 9 August and refused to recognise the outcome as valid, saying it was rigged.

Mr Lukashenko has run the country for 26 years but protests have rocked Belarus ever since the results, which gave him a landslide victory with 80 per cent of the vote.

The authorities responded by detaining protesters in the streets and outside factories, threatening workers with jail or being fired if they went on strike, said Alexander Yaroshuk, leader of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Unions.

Since the disputed election, the authorities have tried to quell the turmoil by detaining thousands and dispersing the crowds but the protests have continued.