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28 Sep, 2021 13:16

Embattled Belarusian leader Lukashenko says constitutional vote to help smooth his exit from office to be held within 6 months

Embattled Belarusian leader Lukashenko says constitutional vote to help smooth his exit from office to be held within 6 months

Belarus' long-time leader, Alexander Lukashenko, has promised that a vote on the country's new constitution will be held no later than next spring. The reforms have been presented as a precursor to him stepping down from office.

Speaking on Tuesday at a meeting with members of the commission charged with drafting the new document, Lukashenko explained that the proposal had already been put together and a referendum on its principles will be held by February next year.

He went on to claim that “world experience” and “modern trends in the development of constitutional legislation” had been taken into account when drafting the new version.

Lukashenko also noted a number of what he calls “controversial moments” in the draft, saying there is ambiguity around the regulation of how authorities conduct themselves, and how the ombudsman for human rights in Belarus will operate.

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

The news comes only days after the embattled leader reiterated his intentions to hold the nationwide vote, telling officials that his government would set out the changes “so that we cannot be accused of clinging to power until our hands turn blue…and fiddling with this constitution for our own benefit.”

The veteran politician, who has held office since 1994, has previously said he will stand down from his country’s top job once the new document is in place. He has defended the decision to stay on until it is ratified, arguing that it “cannot be given to an unknown president,” as it would be a “disaster.”

However, a number of opposition figures have expressed concern that the drafting of the new constitution is simply a delaying tactic designed to shield him from calls to resign. The country has seen widespread protests in the wake of last summer’s presidential election which activists, as well as many international observers, say was rigged in his favor.

Also on rt.com Lukashenko drops bombshell by announcing intention to leave Belarusian presidency once new constitution is adopted

The Constitutional Commission that is tasked with the job of “polishing the project” and building the new constitution is made up of 36 people that span across a range of sectors in Belarus, such as law, government, public associations, as well as reputable names from the country’s social sphere. Some of the proposals at the heart of the new version include blocking the president from issuing decrees and limiting presidential terms to two.

Despite Lukashenko rejecting previous proposals from the Constitutional Commission back in July, saying that the draft needed to be “brought into line,” the president admits that the upcoming February 2022 referendum is inevitable. “There is a referendum ahead of us,” he says. “We will have to hold it, to persuade the people, although we won’t get out of our way.”

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