According to the draft posted on the president’s website, the president of Belarus will only be allowed two terms of five years each. But the restriction will take effect only when a “newly elected president” takes office, giving Lukashenko the opportunity to remain in power for two more terms.
“Lukashenko will open the presidency for himself until at least 2035, when he turns 81,” independent political analyst Valery Karpalevich told the Associated Press.
The amendment also calls for the creation of a new administrative body, the “Belarusian People’s Assembly,” which would operate in parallel with Parliament. It has the power to legislate, propose constitutional amendments, elect members of the country’s Central Elections Committee and judges in the country’s supreme courts.
Lukashenko’s contingency plan
Lukashenko, who has been in power in Belarus since 1994, has taken extremely harsh repressive measures against political opponents and protesters since widespread protests erupted after the dictator declared himself the election winner following a highly questionable August 2020 election outcome.
According to Karpalevich, the regime drafted the new “People’s Assembly” proposal during the turmoil that followed the controversial elections, as a contingency plan if Lukashenko was forced to resign.
This need has diminished as opposition groups have been imprisoned or forced to flee the country, while Lukashenko has moved closer to Russia.
– In the proposed changes we see a hybrid – both the possibility of re-election as president until 2035 and the possibility of remaining in power as a possible leader of the Belarusian People’s Assembly, says Karpalevich.
“New Political Bureau”
Changes will be processed in a referendum scheduled for February 2022.
The leader of the Belarusian opposition, Svetlana Tishanovskaya, who was forced to leave the country, wrote in the Telegram news agency that the Belarusian people are not being offered real elections.
“Lukashenko is trying to impose on himself immunity from prosecution, powers to strip Belarusians of their citizenship and appoint a new political office embodied in the Belarusian People’s Assembly and no one has elected him.”
The proposed changes also remove provisions for Belarus’ “neutrality”, which can be interpreted as another step that strengthens relations with Moscow.
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