Belarusian authorities have presented plans for a new constitution. The changes appear to be intended to strengthen the position of Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko and make it even more difficult for the opposition to gain power.
For example, according to the draft constitution, former presidents of Belarus can no longer be prosecuted after their mandate. Since its independence from the former Soviet state, Belarus has had only one president: Lukashenko himself.
The constitutional amendment was announced a year ago by Lukashenko, in response to mass protests against his regime. For a long time, it was not clear exactly what the change would entail. Critics saw the promise of a constitutional amendment as a way to nip the unrest in the bud, without having to make concrete commitments.
The constitutional amendment will be presented to the people in a referendum in February. According to observers and the European Union, previous referendums were fraudulent. The new constitution is therefore expected to be approved.
Maximum duration of the presidency
Among other things, the new constitution changes the rules governing the presidency. For example, future presidential candidates are excluded from elections if they have lived abroad for some time in the past 20 years. This amendment appears to be aimed at excluding opposition politicians who fled the country due to the crackdown from participating in the elections. Presidential candidates must also be at least 40 years old.
The draft constitution also sets a maximum term of office for presidents. After two elections, a president is no longer allowed to participate; however, a term is extended from four to five years.
Lukashenko is currently serving his sixth term, but the term count will start again after the constitutional amendment. The president could therefore “win” the elections two more times if the constitution is passed. In theory, he can stay until 2035, when he turns 81.
“Infuriatingly humble social media ninja. Devoted travel junkie. Student. Avid internet lover.”