After a visit by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to Belarus, President Alexander Lukashenko reaffirmed the plans for a new constitution and also announced that he will leave. “With the new constitution I will no longer work as president,” said Lukashenko, according to the state agency Belta, in Minsk.
The Belarusian ruler, however, left it open when that would be. Lavrov urged Minsk on Thursday to tackle the reforms.
Lukashenko has now assured that the new constitution will restrict the president’s almost unlimited powers. To this end, the roles of parliament and the government are to be strengthened. He was critical of the establishment of new parties and parliamentary elections based on party lists. That would only lead to the formation of interest groups and a division in society.
Since the controversial presidential election on August 9, after which he was declared victor again after 26 years in office, there have been mass protests and strikes against him. Lukashenko had repeatedly refused to resign or to hand over power.
Minsk political scientist Valery Karbelevich believes that Lukashenko will continue to keep all options open. “The announcement that you will not run again under the new constitution is a smoke candle,” he told the dpa news agency. “Lukashenko leaves open when this constitutional reform will take place and who will implement it.”
Lukashenko has been working for months and has an eye on the election date of 2025. Until then he wants to continue to rule. Everything that has been known so far about the “secret plans to amend the constitution” does not amount to change, emphasized Karbelevitsch.
The democracy movement headed by 38-year-old Svetlana Tichanowskaya continues to demand Lukashenko’s resignation, an end to police violence, the release of all political prisoners and early elections. Tichanovskaya, who is in exile in the EU and is seen by many as the true winner of the presidential election, called for new protests. Actions against Lukashenko are planned again this Sunday in Minsk and other cities.