Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 223

Belarus president Aleksandr Lukashenko yesterday hosted a large group of parliamentary deputies who split from the legitimate parliament and endorsed Lukashenko’s draft constitution, which would give the president absolute powers. According to the presidential camp, 106 deputies (of a total of 199) signed a document of allegiance to Lukashenko and declared themselves ready to join the lower house of a new, bicameral parliament envisaged in the presidential draft constitution and deprived of any powers. This group proclaimed itself to be the lawful parliament, pending the formation of the bicameral one. It also "validated" the results of the November 9 – November 24 "referendum," which Lukashenko has cited to justify his actions. The leaders of this group of deputies and Lukashenko himself referred to the lawful parliament as "former" parliament and vowed to complete the formation of the new bicameral parliament by Christmas. The president confidently predicted that it would not be necessary to formally disband the "former" parliament.

The legitimate parliamentary leaders, meanwhile, chaired a session in the parliament building attended by only 56 deputies, less than the quorum of 100 required for decisions. These deputies showed every inclination of resisting the presidential coup. Also yesterday, the Constitutional Court decided following an agonizing debate to drop impeachment proceedings against Lukashenko. That decision came after some parliamentary deputies had withdrawn their signatures from the impeachment petition, bringing the number of signatories to below the minimum of 70 required for pressing the case. (Belaplan, Radio Minsk, Interfax, November 26) The Alliance in Defense of Democracy, comprised of some 20 extraparliamentary groups of national-democratic orientation, today supported parliament chairman Syamyon Sharetsky’s appeal for international support to the lawful parliament, and also called for demonstrations in Minsk. (Western agencies, November 27)

Battle Lines Drawn in Moldova’s Presidential Runoff.