Belorussian president Alexander Lukashenko has won overwhelming approval in a referendum allowing him to run for a third term in office.
Official results claim more than 77 percent of voters backed his proposal and show a record turnout of 90 percent. But the opposition and the West have accused the government of vote-rigging, intimidation and of closing down independent media outlets. Opposition leaders says they have proof the elections were rigged and the results pre-determined and claim to have been harassed. Independent observers said the poll was marked by a climate of fear and a lack of media freedom. Chairman of the European Parliament’s delegation Bogdan Klich said: “In such a situation of non-equal rights, I can say that we can have many doubts in the future of the democratic process in Belarus.” Even in the capital Minsk, where the opposition is strongest, Lukashenko officially picked up 74 percent approval. Despite the allegations of irregularities, the election appears to reflect support for Lukashenko after a decade in power based on promises to restore Soviet-era certainties.