Surprise vote in Belarus

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The long-suffering and unassuming people of Belarus confounded predictions by voting in presidential elections for a candidate who had spoken out strongly against corruption instead of the conservative prime minister they were expected to elect, Helen Womack reports from Moscow.

Preliminary results released yesterday showed that the outsider Alexander Lukashenko, 39, had won 45.1 per cent of the vote - just short of the 50 per cent needed to win the presidency outright. He will be well placed for a second round of voting pitted against Vyacheslav Kebich, who came second with 17.4 per cent this week.