Belarus: the powers of President Alexander Lukashenko strengthened after a referendum


More than 65% of Belarusians voted on Sunday February 27 for the amendments to the Constitution proposed by President Alexander Lukashenko, announced the central electoral commission of this former Soviet republic, arousing the concern of the EU which denounced the conditions of the ballot.

The question put to the vote concerned whether or not to adopt these amendments, which would strengthen the powers of 67-year-old Alexander Lukashenko, who has ruled Belarus with an iron fist since 1994.

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The referendum came as neighboring Ukraine is in the throes of a Russian invasion that began on February 24, as talks between Russians and Ukrainians, announced by both sides, took place on the Belarusian border.

“Lukashenko is Putin’s useful idiot”

“65.16% of voters voted for the amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus”, announced on the night of Sunday to this Monday, February 28, the chairman of the Belarusian central electoral commission, Igor Karpenko, quoted by the Russian press agencies. According to him, 10.07% voted against.

The turnout was 78.63%, according to the same source.

To be adopted, the amendments needed to collect more than 50% of the votes, the referendum being considered valid if more than 50% of voters took part.

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European concern

Among the proposed changes are lifelong legal immunity for former presidents, and the introduction of a two-term presidential limit for successors to Alexander Lukashenko.

If the Constitution did not envisage a limit before, this new limit would apply from the entry into office of a new president, which would allow Alexander Lukashenko to remain in power until 2035 if he is re-elected in 2025.

“Go back to Minsk!” » : report on the border between Poland and Belarus

In the amended version, the obligation for Belarus to remain a “nuclear-free zone”. This article would be replaced by an article “excluding military aggression from the territory” Belarusian.

“The proposed changes to the Constitution give Lukashenko additional tools to further consolidate his power”, lamented the head of diplomacy of the European Union, Josep Borrell, in a press release. The deletion of the reference […] the non-nuclear status of Belarus “is another disturbing element”he said.

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The Russian example

Josep Borrell challenged the validity of this organized ballot “in a context of widespread human rights violations”. “These are not the conditions for a democratic process of constitutional revision”he added.

At the end of January, the United States were alarmed that this reform would not allow the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus, a country bordering Ukraine and Poland.

Megalomaniac, cruel and paranoid: Lukashenko, Europe’s last dictator

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The re-election of Alexander Lukashenko to the presidency in August 2020 sparked a historic protest movement in this former Soviet republic, violently repressed by the authorities, who carried out mass arrests, liquidations of media and NGOs.

In Russia, a constitutional reform adopted in 2020 paved the way for President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036.



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