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13 December 2022, 12:01

Lukashenko explains why Belarusian People's Congress is needed

MINSK, 13 December (BelTA) – The Belarusian People's Congress is designed, among other things, to protect the country from possible internal confrontation and even civil war, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at a meeting to discuss issues related to the harmonization of certain laws with the updated Constitution on 13 December, BelTA has learned.

The bill “On the Belarusian People's Congress” had been put out for a public debate. As a result, about half a thousand comments and remarks were submitted. According to Chairperson of the Standing Commission on Legislation of the House of Representatives Svetlana Lyubetskaya, the feedback was mostly constructive. Two-thirds of all proposals dealt with the clarification of the wording of the bill. About 40 comments contained no specific proposals, only a positive assessment of the bill in general. And only 18 people (which is 3%) spoke against the establishment of the Belarusian People's Congress.

Special role of the Belarusian People's Congress

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that in fact more than 3% of the public believe that the Belarusian People's Congress is not necessary. The president noted: “People should understand that things will no longer be peaceful. We already have the experience of 2020. They will not leave us alone. Even if all our people want it, they will not let us live a quiet life. And the question is: what if? What if we face another havoc? 2020 saw an attempt of external forces to arrange a rebellion, to influence our country from abroad. This is the main thing. Well, there were several thousand people inside the country who decided to get in on it. Well, what if an internal confrontation happens? Yes, it will be fueled from outside, but the main reason and the main forces will be inside. We have not had this before, but this is possible, especially now that the generation is changing, and the government, including the president, will be changing through natural causes,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“If such internal reasons for a clash emerge... Are we going to go against each other head-to-head? This should not happen. And how can we prevent this? We are offering people and the state this mechanism – the Belarusian People's Congress,” the head of state said.

“To put it simply, we need to bring home to every one of the 10 million that in the event of a conflict political parties will get agitated, various branches of power will bend in different directions, the turmoil will pass on to society, and this might spiral into civil war ... What shall we do then? In this case the Belarusian People's Congress will step on the scene. And people should know that in such a situation this body will convene and make a decision,” the president said.

“The Belarusian People's Congress is the stabilizer of society. This is its main role – to stabilize society throughout all stages of its evolution. And if the need for negotiations arises, it will provide a platform,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed. Under normal conditions, the Belarusian People's Congress will function as it should, with only a few additional powers.

Need for and cost of the Belarusian People's Congress

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that people in Belarus have not experienced civil war and civil confrontation. “Therefore, many question the need for the congress. I hope to God that we will not need the congress for this. Yet, all kinds of things can happen. It costs the state almost nothing as the congress will consist of 1,200 people working on the ground [delegates will gather at the Belarusian People's Congress once a year, and the rest of the time they will work on the ground doing their jobs]. They will convene, put an end to the confrontation. Therefore, people should understand that we are thinking about the future. We hope to God that this confrontation will not take place. But if it does, we will handle it through the Belarusian People's Congress,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

The president noted that every citizen of Belarus should perceive the Belarusian People's Congress as their own representative body. “If something happens, the crucial decisions will be taken there. This is what people should understand,” the head of state said.

Interaction of the Belarusian People's Congress with government agencies

Svetlana Lyubetskaya spoke about some improvements to the bill. Thus, in Article 3 of the bill, two principles of the work of the Belarusian People's Congress were supplemented - the rule of law and free discussion and decision-making, which citizens and lawyers insisted on.

In order to strengthen the special status of the Belarusian People's Congress and clearly define its competencies (people were concerned about this matter) a separate Article 4 was singled out stating that the Belarusian People's Congress has no right to replace state bodies, perform their functions, or interfere with their activities.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also drew attention to this aspect. “It is very important that the Belarusian People's Congress should not interfere and that is should do its own work. Although the Belarusian People's Congress will include people of reputation, it cannot interfere with the work of other bodies, replace them, or perform their functions. The Belarusian People's Congress, in fact, should remain a political institution, and should not morph into some kind of bureaucratic body,” the head of state said.

The Belarusian leader noted that it is necessary to tell people that they should not rush to the Belarusian People's Congress asking it to help resolve issues related to construction of houses, fences, roofs ... “This is not its function. It will deal with big issues, major issues facing our country. The Belarusian People's Congress should not deal with these fences and roofs even on its own initiative. People can take such grievances to local authorities, the government, the president. We need to explain to people that it [the Belarusian People's Congress] will discuss the country's development strategy,” the head of state emphasized.

Composition of the Belarusian People's Congress

According to Svetlana Lyubetskaya, the public wants the Belarusian People's Congress to have delegates from all walks of life. Therefore, Article 6 provides that the Belarusian People's Congress should have delegates representing various population groups.

“We want to draw the attention to the fact that representatives of labor collectives will make up 90% of delegates” the head of state noted.

People in some labor collectives were concerned that the Belarusian People's Congress might turn into another meeting of officials. “Well, maybe you failed to reach out to people, to explain everything to them. Yet, representatives of labor collectives will account for 90% of delegates. Only the ways of getting into this Congress are somewhat different,” Aleksandr Lukashenko explained. For example, it is not necessary for a factory staff to meet and nominate their representative to the Belarusian People's Congress. The congress will also include MPs and members of public associations and other organizations that represent labor collectives in one way or another. “These should be professionals. These should not be random people who would come, attend the meeting, while away their time, understand or not understand something and leave. Such people should not be there,” the president said as he voiced his demand to delegates of the Belarusian People's Congress. These should be competent people with a wealth of experience under their belt. They will have to make decisions on strategic matters, the most important issues facing the state and the public. This is the responsible mission of our congress,” the president said.

How critical issues will be initiated and addressed

The MP also said that it turned out during the public debate that not everyone understood how the discussion of the following issues would be initiated. These issues include introduction of amendments and additions to the Constitution, introduction of proposals to call a nationwide referendum, discussion of the legitimacy of elections and abolition of legal acts of state bodies, as well as public holidays. Therefore, the relevant articles of the bill establish that the Presidium of the Belarusian People's Congress or a group of delegates consisting of at least one third of all delegates would be able to initiate these issues.

“At the same time, there will be a preliminary discussion of a number of important matters by the bodies of the Belarusian People's Congress. This will ensure their timely and thorough preparation for consideration by the congress. These matters include the legitimacy of elections, the removal of the president from office, the abolition of legal acts, decisions of government agencies. We assume that the preliminary discussion will be held by commissions. And the algorithm will be established by the regulations,” Svetlana Lyubetskaya noted.

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