Belarus to hold referendum on constitutional changes

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said Thursday that a referendum would be held on constitutional reforms.

State-owned news agency BelTA reported that Lukashenko said that whether or not the Belarusian People’s Congress will become a constitutional body has not been settled. However, Lukashenko is reported to have stated that the matter will be part of a draft Constitution which will then be subject to a referendum.

The statement follows Lukashenko’s December 8, 2020 proposal that the Belarusian People’s Congress become a constitutional body. Lukashenko stated that this would enhance the role of the body, making speakers of Parliament, ministers, and governors accountable to the Congress.

The sixth Belarusian People’s Congress will be held in Minsk, the country’s capital city, in February. The body currently has no formal power and consists of unelected delegates.

Belarus’ upcoming referendum comes amidst instability in the country. After having first taken office in 1994, Lukashenko was announced by the Central Election Commission of Belarus as having won another term and 80.23 percent of the vote in the August election. However, opposition candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya stated that where votes had been properly counted she polled 60-70 percent. Since the election, weekly protests have occurred, with clashes with police becoming violent. The EU and USA do not recognise Lukashenko as the legitimate leader of Belarus, although Lukashenko’s presidency is supported by Russia.

Lukashenko did not provide information concerning the date of the proposed referendum on constitutional changes.