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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…

Uganda Passes Law Punishing Homosexuality With Life in Prison; removal of the death penalty is a concession

Uganda’s parliament passed a bill that seeks to punish homosexuality by giving sentences to offenders of as long as life imprisonment.

The bill was passed today after a voice vote and will become law when President Yoweri Museveni gives assent, Mohammed Katamba, a spokesman for the Parliament, said by phone from the capital, Kampala.

Lawmaker Fox Odoi will challenge the bill in court, according to the Parliament’s Twitter feed.

“Two members on the committee which drafted the bill opposed it and wrote a minority report,” Katamba said, without naming the people.

The bill initially sought a death penalty for offenders with minors, which was dropped for a life sentence because of the East African nation’s plans to ratify the United Nations convention against capital punishment, Simon Lokodo, the minister of state for ethics and integrity, said in December last year.

“The removal of the death penalty is a concession, but life imprisonment and a raft of other alarming provisions remain,” Maria Burnett, senior researcher in the Africa division of New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in an e-mailed response to questions. “President Museveni should reject the bill and send a clear message that Uganda doesn’t stand for this type of intolerance and discrimination.”

Lawmaker David Bahati in February last year reintroduced the bill that he first proposed in 2009, arguing that penalties for offenders under the current laws are lenient.

Source: Bloomberg BusinessWeek, December 20, 2013

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