MINSK, 20 October (BelTA) – The bill on the formation of the Belarusian People's Congress was discussed at the meeting hosted by Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko on 20 October. The document was developed by Chairperson of the Standing Commission on Legislation of the House of Representatives Svetlana Lyubetskaya, BelTA has learned.
Svetlana Lyubetskaya noted that the work on the bill represented quite a challenge, since there are no structures like the Belarusian People's Congress in other countries. “This is our unique legal experience, however this supreme representative body has a historical prototype - a people's council,” she noted.
“It has passed the test of time. This is absolutely our thing and we have been using it for decades, since 1996,” the president said.
According to Svetlana Lyubetskaya, the work on the bill on the Belarusian People's Congress sought to address three main tasks: “The first one is to come up with such a mechanism to form the Belarusian People's Congress that would ensure, on the one hand, its authority, professionalism and efficiency and, on the other hand, its legitimacy, that is, the recognition of its decisions by the society based on the broad representation of delegates who will be drawn from all branches of power, local councils of deputies, and from civil society.”
The procedure to elect delegates from local councils of deputies and civil society should be as simple as possible, there should be no complex multi-stage procedures that would require the involvement of the Central Election Commission and courts in processing complaints. It had been decided earlier that the formation of the Belarusian People's Congress should not turn into another electoral campaign.
“The second task is to decide how the Belarusian People's Congress will use its constitutional powers. The bill should spell out how momentous decisions will be made. This includes procedures to call national referendums, to declare and enforce a state of emergency or martial law. The third task is to form a compact structure of bodies of the Belarusian People's Congress, clearly define the powers of the chair and the functions of the presidium, so that they do not overlap with or replace the competences of the Belarusian People's Congress,” she said.
One of the most debated issues was the formation of the Belarusian People's Congress. The bill stipulates that being a democratic structure the Belarusian People's Congress will be formed on a parity basis. Part of its composition will consist of delegates ex officio: the incumbent president and the former president, representatives of the legislative branch, the executive branch, and the judiciary. There will be 440 delegates in total.
The next part will include representatives of local councils of deputies. These delegates will be elected by the oblast councils of deputies from among deputies of the oblast, basic and grassroots levels, and include all deputies of the Minsk City Council of Deputies. The exact number of these deputies will be determined by the Central Election Commission based on the number of voters residing in the respective constituency. Their total number will not exceed 350 people.
The remaining part of the delegates will be representatives of civil society. A simple and fair principle of election is proposed - an equal number of delegates from each civil society organization. The maximum number of delegates in this category is 400 people.
Svetlana Lyubetskaya told journalists after the meeting that in line with the Constitution, the maximum number of delegates of the Belarusian People's Congress is 1,200 people. At the same time, she recommended not to focus on specific numbers, but rather pay attention to the parity principle of forming the Belarusian People's Congress, which allows taking on board the interests of various segments of society and ensuring their fair representation.
As for determining what organizations and structures will be considered civil society organizations, this matter will be spelled out in another bill that is now in the works and will be submitted to the House of Representatives.