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

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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…

Lawyer: Four killers of U.S. official could escape death

KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Four men convicted of murdering a U.S. aid official and his driver in Khartoum could escape the death penalty if the family of the American victim rescinded its request for execution, the defense lawyer said Monday.

The four were condemned to hang for killing John Granville, 33, who worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development, and his driver, Abdelrahman Abbas Rahama, 39.

Under Sudanese law, the families of murder victims can choose blood money or the death penalty for retribution.

Granville's mother, Jane, said in a letter read after the sentencing in June that she preferred the killers be jailed for life, but because this option had not been offered she backed the death penalty.

Defense lawyer Adil Abdelgani told Reuters the father of the driver had waived his right for execution, prompting the court to seek the view of Granville's family again.

"They will not issue a new sentence until they hear the views of the family of the late Granville. If they ask for the death penalty, they will get it," Abdelgani said.

He said court could still to decide to imprison the men, which he said would be a sentence based on the principle of a punishment "in the public interest."

Granville was the first U.S. official to be killed in Khartoum for more than 30 years. He was returning home from New Year celebrations on January 1, 2008, when he and Rahama were shot. Granville was from near Buffalo, close to New York city.

Lawyers said the four men, all in their 20s and 30s, shouted Islamic slogans after the killing.

Source: Reuters, August 10, 2009

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