Thu, 09 Jul 2020

Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has dismissed his government, state media report, two months before a presidential election.

'The president has decided to dismiss the current government. A relevant decree has been signed,' Belarus 1 television channel said on June 3.

A presidential election is scheduled to be held on August 9, with Lukashenka, who has ruled the country of 9.5 million people since 1994, widely expected to win a sixth term in office.

Belarus abolished presidential term limits in 2004.

Critics of Lukashenka say his government has shown little tolerance for dissent and independent media.

Last month, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned that Belarusian authorities have intensified their crackdown on protesters, opposition bloggers, journalists, and other government critics with a "new wave of arbitrary arrests" ahead of the presidential election.

The country has been the target of U.S. and EU sanctions over its poor rights record and lack of fair elections, but Belarus and the West have recently sought to mend ties to reduce Russia's influence in the country.

With reporting by Belarus 1

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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