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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…

PNG government defends death penalty as new guidelines approved

The Papua New Guinea government has defended its decision to reinstate the death penalty as the country prepares to execute 13 prisoners before the end of the year.

Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, secretary for the Department of Justice and attorney-general, said people had had enough of serious crime and perpetrators should die for their crimes.

"In this country we have very strong support for the implementation of the death penalty," Mr Kalinoe told the ABC's Radio Australia." For example, one of the (radio) talkback shows I went to, 33 people called. Of the 33, 3 opposed the death penalty, 30 of them fully supported the government's role, to actually offer to be the executioner.

"That's how serious the citizens of this country are, serious in trying to make this place, a just safe and secure society."

Mr Kalinoe's comments came after the government approved new guidelines for the implementation of death penalty.The death penalty has not been used in PNG for more than 50 years, but was re-enacted last year when the law was amended to include more offences. The National Executive Council then approved 3 modes of execution - lethal injection, firing squad and hanging.

Since then, 13 people have been waiting on death row, but lack of infrastructure has meant there has been no method to enact the capital punishment. Recent reports suggest both Indonesia and Thailand have stepped in with offers of financial assistance and expertise. Mr Kalinoe said the government wanted to make the country safer in re-enacting the death penalty.

"Papua New Guinea, in particular Port Moresby, is regarded as one of the most dangerous cities of the world," he said. "That's a label that us Papua New Guineans live with, sometimes we're very embarrassed ... what a beautiful country but our reputation, fairly or unfairly, has gotten ahead of us, making this place a very unsafe sort of a place to live in.

"One of [the government's aims] was to strengthen police, strengthen the law and justice sector and implement whatever laws we need to implement." 

Last week the Archbishop of the PNG Catholic Church, John Ribat, spoke out against the death penalty and called for more community discussion on the matter.

The crimes in PNG that could attract the death penalty for those convicted included: treason, piracy, wilful murder, aggravated rape, robbery involving violence, and sorcery-related killings.

Source: Radio Australia, Feb. 25, 2015

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