No single presidential candidate amid COVID-19 outbreak

26 April 2020, Minsk. Opposition politicians taking part in symbolic Chernobyl march. Photo: @adziny2020

The COVID-19 threat is taking the ‘full participation’ in the 2020 presidential campaign and electing a single candidate off the table, a group of Belarusian opposition politicians said on May, 10.

In late January, five Belarusian opposition parties agreed to nominate a single candidate for the 2020 presidential elections. The politicians declared that the primaries would last until May and would also be conducted on the Internet.

Single presidential candidate: Belarus opposition facing challenge

Since 1994, Alyaksandr Lukashenka has been the first and still the only president of Belarus. It is the first time since 2006 that the Belarusian opposition has managed to unite in selecting a single candidate for the presidential election. As of late March, the wannabe list included Pavel Sevyarynets (Belarusian Christian Democracy), Alyaksei Yanukevich (Belarusian People’s Front), Volha Kavalkova (Belarusian Christian Democracy), Yury Hubarevich (Movement for Freedom) and Mikalai Kazlou (United Civic Party).

However, now three of them say that the incumbent leader is set to hold the election in the midst of the epidemic to avail of the situation and stay in power again.

“We state that calling and holding elections in the midst of the coronavirus epidemic is inadmissible and crimeful. It is obvious that such decision proceeds from the desire to use the pandemic as an additional vehicle for further usurpation of power and deprivation of Belarusians of the right to vote. Yet today it is clear that safe collecting signatures for the nomination of candidates is impossible,” the statement reads.

As reported earlier, the 2020 presidential election is scheduled for August, 9.

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Primaries candidates Yury Hubarevich, Volha Kavalkova, Mikalai Kazlou also announced the launch of the campaign ‘For Belarus Without Dictatorship’. Ihar Barysau (Belarusian Social Democratic Party) and Vital Rymasheuski (Belarusian Christian Democracy) have joined them.

“We plan to resort to legal election campaign tools during the period of collecting signatures in order to mobilise, unite and support the citizens of Belarus who want change,” they promised.

The politicians intend to create an initiative group to start the campaign; its main goals being the resignation of Alyaksandr Lukashenka and conducting fair elections.

Pandemic vs single presidential candidate initiative: Lukashenka rubbing hands