The Belarus Constitutional Court ruled October 11 that the incumbent Supreme Soviet is the country’s rightful representative and legislative body until a new legislature is in place. The court invalidated president Aleksandr Lukashenko’s claim that the incumbent Supreme Soviet´s powers had expired and said that the legislative branch of government must continue to exist and exercise its powers. Supreme Soviet chairman Mechislau Hrib, who together with other parliamentarians had petitioned the court to review the constitutionality of Lukashenko’s acts, said that this was not a confrontation between the branches of government but, rather, a conflict initiated by the president personally against the legislature. (12)
Earlier this week the court ruled that Lukashenko’s changes to the budget by presidential decree were unconstitutional. The more recent is based on the constitution´s articles which stipulate that the legislature is elected for five-year terms but retains its powers until the first plenary session of the next legislature. This ruling renders illegal Lukashenko’s refusal to recognize the legislature’s enactments since May. The present Supreme Soviet´s term expired in May 1995 but the elections held that month were declared invalid owing to an insufficient turnout. Repeat elections are scheduled for November 29 but Lukashenka challenges their legality and seeks to block their funding. Meanwhile the court is shortly due to examine the constitutionality of other presidential decrees.
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