Belarus holds referendum on constitutional changes | Political news


President Alexander Lukashenko promises to vote on proposals to reform the powers of his office, state media report.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday that the country would hold a referendum on its constitutional reform proposals, state news agency Belta reported.

Lukashenko, who has faced weekly protests since claiming victory in the August 9 elections, according to his opponents, has been rigged, did not say when such a referendum would take place.

The comments from the 66-year-old man came as he addressed staff at the Belarusian National Applied Research Center for Pediatric Oncology, Hematology and Immunology, Belta reported.

Lukashenko has been in power since 1994 and claimed a sixth term with nearly 80% of the vote in the August poll, according to official results.

Facing the biggest crisis in his power after the elections, he oversaw a sweeping crackdown on peaceful anti-government protests and dissent in the former Soviet republic.

But he also suggested constitutional reforms, publicly supported by Russia’s traditional ally, that could reduce presidential powers.

Earlier this week on Monday, Lukashenko said a National Assembly of unelected delegates would meet in February for the first time since 2016 as part of his reform plan.

Lukashenko has so far given few details on possible constitutional reforms, but said decisions to redistribute existing presidential powers could be taken at a meeting of the National Assembly.

The political body has no formal power itself, but Lukashenko has said he may soon gain his authority.

The body usually meets every five years and brings together several thousand delegates nominated by local state councils, pro-Lukashenko parties and Soviet-style workers’ groups.

Lukashenko’s political opponents, the most prominent of whom were jailed or fled the country, rejected the reform proposals as a blocking tactic to help him overcome the protests and the wider political crisis.

Police used stun grenades, tear gas and batons to disperse the rallies, and thousands of people were imprisoned and brutally beaten.

Lukashenko’s alleged vote rigging and crackdown on Belarusian protesters prompted the United States and the European Union to introduce sanctions against the country’s officials.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *