The question put to the vote was whether or not to adopt these amendments, which would strengthen the powers of Mr. Lukashenko, 67, who has ruled Belarus with an iron fist since 1994.
The referendum came as neighboring Ukraine is in the throes of a Russian invasion launched on February 24, as talks between Russians and Ukrainians, announced by both sides, are to take place on the Belarusian border.
%voters voted for amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus”,”text”:”65.16%voters voted for amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarus”}}”>65.16% of voters voted for amendments to the Constitution of the Republic of Belarusannounced on the night of Sunday to Monday the chairman of the Belarusian Central Election Commission, Igor Karpenko, quoted by Russian news agencies.
Less than 11% against
According to him, 10.07% voted against. The turnout was 78.63%, according to the same source.
To be adopted, the amendments needed to collect more than 50% of the votes, the referendum being considered valid if more than 50% of voters took part.
Among the proposed changes are lifelong legal immunity for former presidents, and the introduction of a two-term presidential limit for Mr Lukashenko’s successors.
If the Constitution did not envisage a limit before, this new limit would apply from the entry into office of a new president, which would allow Alexander Lukashenko to remain in power until 2035 if he is re-elected in 2025.
No more “nuclear-free zone”
In the amended version, the obligation for Belarus to remain a
nuclear free zone. This article would be replaced by an article
excluding military aggression from the territory Belarusian.
At the end of January, the United States was alarmed that this reform would not allow the deployment of Russian nuclear weapons in Belarus, a country bordering Ukraine and Poland.
The re-election of Alexander Lukashenko to the presidency in August 2020 sparked a historic protest movement in this former Soviet republic, violently repressed by the authorities, who carried out mass arrests, liquidations of media and NGOs.
In Russia, a constitutional reform adopted in 2020 paved the way for President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036.