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change constitution to prevent opposition from taking power By Reuters


© Reuters. FILE PHOTO. Alexander Lukashenko, the Belarusian president, speaks at a press conference after talks with Vladimir Putin in Moscow (Russia), September 9, 2021. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov/File Photo

MINSK (Reuters) – Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko called on Tuesday for changes to the constitution that would prevent an opposition movement that rose up against him in mass street protests last year from taking power, the state news agency Belta reported.

Lukashenko, the president of Belarus since 1994 has advocated for constitutional reform to end the political crisis after August 2020’s disputed elections. His opponents denounced this change as an attempt to preserve the old leader.

Russia supported Lukashenko’s violent crackdown on protests. Tens of thousands were arrested. The government described the protesters as foreign-backed criminals intent on violent uprisings.

We have learned that the demonstrators cannot remain in power after last year. Belta quotes Lukashenko saying, “It is not just us who will be eliminated.”

At a meeting of officials, he stated that the new constitution must take these nuances into consideration.

Although he did not give details about the changes he planned, he reiterated that there should be a referendum by February.

Petr Miklashevich the head of constitutional court stated after the meeting that the new constitution proposes a redistributing power between the president and the government.

According to him, the constitution would also give legal status and legitimacy to the People’s Assembly that Lukashenko created this year under criticism from the opposition.

Russia has encouraged Belarus to reform its constitution, having helped Lukashenko get through the protests, as well as Western sanctions.

Lukashenko previously indicated that he will resign once the new constitution has been adopted.

Michelle Bachelet from the United Nations Human Rights Chief, Michelle Bachelet stated that over 650 Belarusians were thought to be in prison for their beliefs. There had also been no legitimate investigations into allegations of police cruelty and maltreatment.

Belarus denied her claim that it was full of false accusations and unfounded statements.

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