Belarusan president Alyaksandr Lukashenka’s administration and leaders of the forcibly dissolved parliament yesterday began a dialogue mediated by a delegation from the European Union. Foreign Minister Ivan Antanovich and presidential administration deputy chief Alyaksandr Abramovich head Lukashenka’s delegation. The legitimate parliament’s chairman, Syamyon Sharetsky, and Deputy Chairman Henadz Karpenka head the opposition’s delegation.
Yesterday’s initial meeting failed to agree on the dialogue’s purpose and format. The presidential side has ruled out discussion of the legitimacy of the November 1996 referendum and of the resulting new constitution and parliament, which have enabled Lukashenka to govern dictatorially. It has also demanded negotiations with the dissolved parliament’s party groups, in order to add Communists and other leftists to the opposition’s delegation. The opposition insists on the illegitimacy of the referendum and the resulting constitution and parliament formed by Lukashenka, and wants the forcibly dissolved parliament to be represented by its presidium in the negotiations. (Russian Agencies June 17) The EU has thus far supported the opposition’s stand, but it seeks to induce both sides to compromise with one another in order to resolve the constitutional crisis.
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