Belarus president convenes new parliament
Power sweep continues
November 26, 1996
Web posted at: 5:40 p.m. EST (2240 GMT)
MINSK, Belarus (CNN) -- President Alexander Lukashenko moved
Tuesday to consolidate his swelling powers by convening a new
parliament that promptly declared the existing one moot.
Lukashenko, who now has wide control over all branches of
government, managed to lure a number of deputies away from
opposition leaders in the country's ongoing power struggle.
More than 100 deputies in the new pro-Lukashenko legislature met with
him and declared themselves the real parliament, though its
legal status remained unclear.
The crossover deputies quickly passed legislation withdrawing
impeachment efforts against Lukashenko, along with a law to
make binding the results of Sunday's referendum giving
Lukashenko nearly absolute power.
"Today is a historic moment," Lukashenko told them. "By
passing this law, we are essentially emerging from the
About 70 Lukashenko opponents in the 199-member elected
parliament met across town in the parliament building, while
a small anti-Lukashenko gathering braved the snow outside.
Lacking a quorum, the deputies failed to take action or come up
with any proposals to counter Lukashenko's maneuvers.
"Lukashenko has won over more than half the deputies by buying
them off," said opposition deputy Pavel Znavets. The
president is consolidating enough power "to be a god on
Earth," he said.
Sunday's vote, which opponents and international monitors
pronounced unfair, changed the constitution to extend
Lukashenko's term by two years, until 2001, and to give him
nearly unlimited powers. Lukashenko claimed that 70.5 percent
of the electorate backed him in the ballot.
Lukashenko promised that all the former deputies, including
those who did not get seats in the new 110-member lower
house, would retain their status and perks as members of
The opposition had promised to pursue impeachment efforts in
the constitutional court. After the new body voted to
withdraw the impeachment bid, though, the court's judges met
in closed session and decided to drop proceedings.
The United States and much of Europe, with the exception of
Russia, have condemned Lukashenko's power drive.
Correspondent Betsy Aaron and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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