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Controversial referendum planned: Lukashenko wants to seize even more power

Controversial referendum planned
Lukashenko wants to seize even more power

At the end of February, the citizens of Belarus are to vote on a new constitution. If this is accepted, ruler Lukashenko will have even more far-reaching powers. He would also be untouchable under criminal law. The opposition is asking the West for help.

Belarusian ruler Alexander Lukashenko has scheduled a controversial constitutional referendum for February 27 to consolidate his power. The 67-year-old signed a decree on the referendum that would decide whether to accept or reject the new constitution, his administration in Minsk said.

Critics warn that the ballot could be falsified. Lukashenko is trying to gain new legitimacy by imitating a referendum, according to a letter signed by opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaya to governments and parliaments in the West and to international organizations.

Tichanovskaya called on the EU, the US, Great Britain and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) not to recognize the “illegal” referendum and to issue new sanctions against “Lukashenko’s regime”. In addition to his far-reaching powers, Lukashenko now wants to give the entire Belarusian People’s Assembly almost unlimited powers and, in all likelihood, make himself its chairman. Lifelong impunity is also planned for Lukashenko, who is accused of murder, torture and other most serious crimes against humanity.

The exiled Tikhanovskaya argued that a vote was impossible under conditions of political repression and an unfree media. Lukashenko had recently closed non-governmental organizations and had hundreds of dissenters locked up. The opposition urged the people of Belarus to invalidate ballots at the ballot box. Lukashenko is not recognized by the EU as President. The presidential election in summer 2020 is considered fake.

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