Belarus opposition stands united, key figure says amid strategy rift
WARSAW, Sept 3- The Belarusian opposition remain united in wanting to hold new elections and stop human rights abuses, a member of an opposition council said on Thursday, after a rare public disagreement about how to unseat President Alexander Lukashenko. “This social movement, this social platform that was created in Belarus has two main goals.
By Joanna Plucinska
WARSAW, Sept 3 (Reuters) – The Belarusian opposition remainunited in wanting to hold new elections and stop human rightsabuses, a member of an opposition council said on Thursday,after a rare public disagreement about how to unseat PresidentAlexander Lukashenko.
Lukashenko faces the biggest challenge of his 26-year rulesince claiming victory in an election last month that opponentssay was rigged. Lukashenko denies electoral fraud and shows nosign of backing down despite the threat of Western sanctions.
This week, election challenger Sviatlana Tsikhanouskayacriticised the strategy of another opposition leader MariaKolesnikova and the team of jailed candidate Viktor Babariko tobring constitutional reform, saying it was a distraction fromthe goal of removing Lukashenko and holding new elections.
“When it comes to constitutional changes, this is just oneinitiative of the coordination council. But what unites us, newelections, is certain,” Pavel Latushko, a former Belarusianminister and a leading member of the opposition council, toldReuters when asked about the potential rift.
“This social movement, this social platform that was createdin Belarus has two main goals. The first – to end human rightsabuses and to free all those who were detained for politicalreasons. And secondly, to accept that the election results werefalsified and that new presidential elections should be held inBelarus. Here, we have absolute agreement.”
Thousands of people were detained during protests after theelection. U.N. human rights investigators said on Tuesday theyhad received reports of hundreds of cases of torture, beatingsand mistreatment. The government denies abusing detainees.
Latushko’s comments were made during a visit to Warsaw,which will be followed by a trip to Lithuania on Friday. He toldReuters he would be visiting other European capitals.(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Kacper Pempel; Additionalreporting by Agnieszka Barteczko;Editing by Alison Williams)
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