Authorities in Belarus have released a draft document proposing amendments to the country’s constitution. The changes allowed authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko to further cement his grip on power and remain in office until 2035.
The proposed amendments were published on Monday on the president’s official website and the website of the state news agency Belta.
Belarusians have submitted their comments, suggestions, and opinions about the changes.
Lukashenko didn’t make any statement on the amendments, but state television showed him attending a special New Year’s Eve celebration for children in the main hall of the Palace of the Republic in Minsk.
The charity event is part of the annual ‘Our Children’ campaign, which runs from mid-December to mid-January in support of children in need.
The constitutional amendments that are being proposed bring back limits on presidential terms that had been abolished during Lukashenko’s tenure, allowing a president only two five-year terms in office.
Belarus regime has stepped up its crackdown against rights organisations, social media users, and journalists amid growing rights concerns.
More than 60 searches of the homes and offices of Belarusian human rights organisations
and their staff reported between 14 and 16 July.
Documents and IT equipment, including laptops, mobile phones and computers
seized during searches.
Amnesty International also reported the closure of 46 human rights and other civil society
organisations in Belarus.
So far, 100 organisations have closed across the country.
Since his election as head of the state last year, Belarusian President Alexander
Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, has launched an unprecedented
repression campaign against rights activists.
The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and Viasna has documented at least 35,000 arbitrary arrests, 608 political prisoners and about 1,800 reports of torture.