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11 Feb, 2021 18:59

Belarusian President Lukashenko says he’ll leave office when ‘peace and order’ is restored, promises to hold ‘open election’

Belarusian President Lukashenko says he’ll leave office when ‘peace and order’ is restored, promises to hold ‘open election’

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has claimed that he will leave his post, once and for all, if protests subside and the unrest which has gripped the country since his disputed election victory last year comes to an end.

The veteran leader was speaking on Thursday at the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly, where he also promised that a draft for a new constitution would be prepared this year and would be submitted for a national referendum in 2022. His plan to leave office is contingent on the new constitution process being completed.

“My main condition for leaving power is peace and order in the country and no protests,” Lukashenko said, noting that he would also demand protection for his current supporters. Many of his most senior backers were present at the speech, and, notably, not wearing masks.

Also on rt.com Lukashenko's offer to change Belarus' constitution likely an attempt to buy time as opposition lacks mechanism to remove him

Last year, the embattled Belarusian head of state made a promise to rewrite the country’s constitution. At the time, the country was dealing with demonstrations and mass unrest, following the 2020 presidential election. According to official results, Lukashenko won 80 percent of the vote and won a sixth term in power. However, the country’s opposition believes that the election results were falsified, with some saying opposition figurehead Svetlana Tikhanovskaya was the true victor. In the months following the vote, her supporters took to the streets across the country to protest. At the time, some saw Lukashenko’s offer to rewrite the constitution as a way to quell the demonstrations.

“We are going to redistribute the authority, radically redistribute it,” he told the Assembly. “The draft constitution will be ready within a year.”

He also promised that the constitution would be voted on through a referendum. “We need to change the constitution because the kind of powers the head of state has are very hard for one person to exercise,” he explained, noting the downsides if “fugitives or protesters” somehow came to run the country.

“We’ll have to hold an open election after the constitution and laws are put in order,” he concluded.

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