MINSK - Authorities in Belarus said they had a strong turnout in a parliamentary election on Sunday after hardline President Alexander Lukashenko denounced opposition leaders as "cowards" for urging people to boycott it as a sham exercise.

The two main opposition parties had called on people to go mushrooming or fishing and abstain from voting in an election which they said would produce a token parliament to rubber-stamp directives by Lukashenko.

"Elections took place in the course of which 109 deputies were elected...," Lidiya Yermoshina, head of the central election committee, told a news conference early on Monday.

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