Joint meeting of Constitutional Commission, working group on finalizing new Constitution draft

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Preparations for amending the Constitution are on the home stretch, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he spoke at a joint meeting of the Constitutional Commission and the working group on finalizing the new Constitution draft on 25 November.

“I think today we can say that the preparations for amending the Constitution are on the home stretch. I want to emphasize that,” the head of state remarked at the beginning of the meeting.

In his words, the Constructional Commission and a special working group uniting established experts, professionals in various industries and other smart experienced people worked on the new Constitution draft. “A lot has been done,” the President noted.

Working on the new Constitution draft, the Constitutional Commission, first of all, submitted tried-and-tested proposals accumulating people’s initiatives among other things. This variant was used as a basis for the working group which focused on some unresolved issues and tried to formulate thing that Constitutional Commission could not formulate. “Crucial constitutional norms were developed as a result,” the Belarusian leader said. “The status of the Belarusian People’s Congress was formalized, powers were distributed between government bodies, stability of the state apparatus was guaranteed. The working group is saying so. Transitional provisions were formulated. I do not think that these are final provisions, it is still necessary to work on them, even radical improvements can be necessary.”

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, the operation of the working group does not bring the work on the Constitution to a close. “Today’s meeting is just another step in the development of amendments. I want you to focus on the current draft,” he said. “You will have to mull it over make a final decision before the draft is submitted to the President.”

The head of state said that the Constitutional Commission and the working group did not agree on all things in the process of work. “In my opinion, it is absolutely normal,” he said. “As the saying goes, controversy serves the cause of truth. Therefore, the proposals of the Constitutional Commission were developed and finalized.”

The President had several meetings with the working group. “I did that to discuss sensitive issues. The results of our work will determine the future of our country,” he said.

“The key amendments to the fundamental law seek to significantly strengthen people’s rule. With this in mind it was proposed to formalize the status of the Belarusian People’s Congress in the Constitution and give it powers that are strategically important for maintaining stability in the country. As I have said more than once, the Belarusian People’s Congress is our veche [a popular assembly in medieval Slavic countries]. I believe that this institution of people’s rule chimes in with centuries-old traditions and the way of life of Belarusians,” he said.

According to the President, in the near future the Constitution draft will be submitted for public consideration. At this stage every citizen can take part in the constitutional process. “I think that the members of the Constitutional Commission and the working group should convey the importance of the proposed innovations to the population,” he said.

In his words, opinion polls show that 50-60% of the population are ready to take part in a referendum and support the Constitution draft. “However, if we work on the draft well, if we publish the Constitution draft, if we tell people about the innovations, if we explain once again why we pass this Constitution, I am convinced that people will support us, just like it happened in the mid-1990s,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“Therefore, I want you to meet with our people, with our workers, at the local level, at public associations. You need to speak about the Constitution in mass media. In short, be proactive,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

“People must take in a referendum with a clear understanding why these innovations are necessary,” the head of state remarked.