UDF to decide on election participation on Sep 21

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The Political Council of the United Pro-Democracy Forces (UDF) on August 31 held its meeting in Minsk to discuss a further election strategy. After lengthy discussions, UDF set September 21 as the date when it will be decided whether to withdraw its candidates or not. The Belarusian Popular Front announced earlier that it would withdraw its candidates five days ahead of the polls.  United Civic Party leader Anatol Lyabedzka told the European Radio for Belarus that the decision was taken by the "overwhelming majority". Out of 51 registered candidates, only 8 voted in support of Popular Front's proposal.

"Pro-democracy candidates are now tasked to send a message to the Belarusian authorities that there is a huge possibility that the majority of UDF candidates could withdraw from the election campaign. The message to international structures is that we are for a dialogue with the authorities but against trading our principles, values and political prisoners", Lyabedzka said.

The candidates are also expected to inform people about UDF's decision that elections could not be recognised as legitimate and to urge people to get to streets for protests on September 28 (polls day).

Anatol Lyabedzka
noted that they also discussed the future of UDF:

"Today we had a discussion about the fate of UDF. Will UDF try to turn into a real, constructive political opposition? Will it get marginalized into a dissident movement? Secondly, are there any points where the interests of the opposition and the government coincide?".

The UCP leader believes that despite the repressions, UDF should seek those "points", namely: independence and democratization of Belarus.