Opposition bloc calls on MFA to build Belarus-supporting EU coalition

Poland's Civic Coalition (KO) opposition bloc has appealed to the country's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to build a European coalition in support of a democratic Belarus ahead of Sunday's presidential election in that country.

A presidential election will be held in Belarus on Sunday, with five candidates running for office: the incumbent Alexander Lukashenko, running for his sixth term, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Hanna Kanapatskaya, Andrey Dmitriyeu (all independent) and Siarhei Cherachen (of the Belarusian Social Democratic Assembly).

Lukashenko's opponents, including Tsikhanouskaya and Viktar Babaryka, whose candidacy was denied, are appealing for the return of Belarus's 1994 constitution, which limits the number of terms of office of the president and states a tripartite division of power.

Last Thursday a Tsikhanouskaya rally attracted over 60,000 participants, with Lukashenko warning against illegal campaign activities or those not agreed to by the authorities, promising that the "reaction will be immediate and the response - brutal."

At a press conference in the Sejm (Poland's lower house of parliament), KO politicians said the social protests and rallies were an attempt to create Belarus anew. "and as neighbours of that state we must support them in that process," said KO MP Robert Tyszkiewicz, warning that protesters faced the country's oppressive state apparatus.

"Belarusian civil society is persecuted today," he said. "Since the start of the campaign, 700 people have been arrested or have suffered repression, more than 100 people are in prison today," he said, adding that Poland's voice should be heard in the issue, along with that of the EU, as "this is also the last moment to warn Lukashenka that the use of force against his own society will be met with sanctions from the EU, this warning may prevent bloodshed and the use of force in Belarus after the elections."

KO Senator Marcin Bosacki called on the MFA to "pull its head out of the sand" and to build an EU coalition ahead of the election to support democracy in Belarus.