Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 38

The Belarus parliament February 20 rejected President Aleksandr Lukashenko’s nominee for chairman of the Central Bank on the grounds that Lukashenko did not submit the nomination to the parliament as required by the constitution. In an accompanying violation, the president announced his intention to subordinate the Central Bank to himself instead of the parliament, as the constitution provides. The parliament defied Lukashenko by voting to instruct the bank’s deputy chairman Nikolai Kuzmich to take over as acting chairman. Parliamentary leaders across the political spectrum warned that deputies may start raising the issue of presidential impeachment if Lukashenko persists in violating the constitution. (6)

The conflict is the first major one between Lukashenko and the new parliament elected last November. The previous parliament’s leadership repeatedly challenged presidential decrees in the Constitutional Court and won most of the cases. However, that parliament was disabled by a lack of a working quorum and general passivity, leaving parliamentary leaders to confront Lukashenko without the chamber’s support. The current parliament, despite its political diversity, has from the beginning signaled a far greater resolve to defend its prerogatives against presidential abuse. Communists, who seek in their own interest to abolish the presidency altogether, might join others in a broad front against Lukashenko.

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