sale Department

News from Byelorussian Parliament (Supreme Soviet)

An Ad hoc Committee of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Cousil of Europe visited Belarus from 24 to 27 November 1996, at the invitatiomn of the Chairman of the Supreme Council Mr Semeon Sharetski
The Ad hoc Committee was composed of the following members of the Parliamentary Assembly:
Mr T. Iwinski (Poland)
Ms A. Guirado (Spain)
Mr G.Magnusson (Sweden)
The Committe appreciated the assistance of the Biarusian authorities in organising the requested meetings.
The Committee met President A. Lukashenka, Chairman of the Sepreme Council S. Sharetski, representatives fo parliamentary factions, Chairman of the Constitutional Court V. Tikhinya, Acting Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission L. Yermoshina, and Head of the Belarusian League of Human Rights E. Novikov, amongst others.
The Committee's role was not to observe voting during the referendum on 24 November 1996. The Committee is not therefor in position to comment on alleged irregularities or on the fairness of the voting procedure in general.
At the same time a number of facts concerning the run-up to the referendum make it impossible for the Committee to reach a positive conclusion as to the democratic legitimacy of the referendum and its results.
Notably, the lack of access to the media for all political forces prevented a genuine public debate on the constitutional drafts were not made available to the voters sufficiently in advance. Indeed they were published only after early voting had started. The Chairman of the Central Electoral Commission V. Gonchar was illegally removed form office.
Under the ruleb of law, given the decision of the Constitutional Court, the referendum results concerning the constitutional changes can only be of a consultative nature.
The Committee recalls that the Council of Europe Venice Commision has found that the Presidential draft fell short of minimum democratic standards and violated the separation of powers and the rule of law. The Committee voices its concern that the way in which the new legislator is being formed might deprive the Belarusian Parliament of its legitimacy.
Following the visit to Minsk, the Committee was convinced that the way in which President Lukashenka conducted the constitutional reform and organised the referendum was contrary to the democratic standarts and jeopardised the future of democratic development in Belarus.
The Committee recalls the Parliamentary Assembly Resolution 1102 calling for a round table of all interested parties and institutions with a view to prviding a productive political political dialogue and a more consesual approach to the constitutional reform.

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