Belarus president Aleksandr Lukashenko warned in a speech yesterday that he would "use his right to dissolve the parliament" if it rescinds the constitutional referendum he wants held on November 24 or if the Constitutional Court rules against holding it. Lukashenko also warned that "a civil war would begin" if the referendum fails to approve his draft constitution. Claiming that a 1995 referendum had given him the right to dissolve the parliament, Lukashenko accused the legislature, its chairman Syamyon Sharetsky personally, and the Constitutional Court of "destabilizing the country" by opposing the expansion of Lukashenko’s presidential powers. Also yesterday, the state press published an appeal by Lukashenko to the people in which he claimed that the October 19-20 "Belarus people’s assembly" — made up of his supporters — had mandated the referendum. The appeal also threatened a "decisive rebuff to provocations of the political adventurists and destructive forces" who oppose his draft constitution.
Lukashenko yesterday also signed decrees ordering the presidential newspaper Sovetskaya Belorussiya (still so named) to publish more than 7 million copies of his draft constitution and directing the government to organize the November 24 referendum using state assets, offices, transportation means, and mass media. (Interfax, Belaplan, October 29)
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