The Leader of Europe's 'Last Dictatorship' Is Facing an Unprecedented Challenge. Here's What It Could Mean for Belarus

Europe’s longest serving leader Alexander Lukashenko has long worked hard to seem invincible. He has dominated past elections that the U.S. has deemed neither free nor fair and brokered no dissent and suppressed protests. Now, he is facing an unprecedented challenge as he runs for a sixth term as president of Belarus in elections on August 9. A former teacher and political novice, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has emerged as his main rival, pledging to topple Lukashenko’s regime and restore democracy.
Tens of thousands have rallied across Belarus in some of the country’s biggest opposition protests in a decade, amid mounting frustration over the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis, combined with grievances about the economy. Referring to Lukashenko, protestors chanted ‘stop the cockroach’ and held placards reading ‘change!’.
“For the first time in his 26-year rule, Lukashenko knows the majority don’t support him,” says Aleksandr Feduta, a former aide to the incumbent, who was i…

Reconciliation committee urges Hamas to cancel death sentences

A reconciliation committee of Palestinian factions met in Gaza City on Tuesday and to send a letter to Fatah and Hamas urging them to stop all actions that have a negative impact on national dialogue.

The letter called on Hamas and the de facto government in Gaza to cancel the death sentences against 3 Palestinians which a Hamas military court ruled handed down on Sunday. The letter explained that the death sentences were related to the Hamas-Fatah rivalry and confrontations, and so should be addressed through the conciliation committee appointed during Hamas Fatah talks in Cairo.

The letter also called on both movements to stop politically-motivated detentions in the West Bank and in Gaza, also calling for a national committee to follow up on that issue.

Furthermore, the letter called for immediately halting all restrictions on public freedoms, namely freedom of movement and travel in Gaza as well as political activities.

For his part, representative of the Palestinian People's Party (PPP) on the conciliation committee, Nafith Ghneim, said the meeting and the letter were aimed at exerting pressure on the de facto government in Gaza and the caretaker government in the West Bank to stop all violations which impede unity talks. A major violation was the death penalty against 3 Fatah-affiliated men in the Gaza Strip, he explained.

Source: Ma'an News Agency, May 29, 2009

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