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Some Results of the Recently Held First All-Belarusian People's Assembly
The First All-Belarusian People's Assembly initiated by the President of the Republic of Belarus A.G. Lukashenko was held in Minsk on October 19-20, 1996. Striving to provide a most complete participation of the broad sections of the public in discussing the problems most pressing for the society and in discussing decisions taken by the country's leadership the Head of the State on the 29-th of August 1996 issued a Decree on the Convocation of the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly.
It should also be underscored that this Assembly was held in full conformity with the Constitution now in force. Its Article 3 reads: "The people is the single source of state power in the Republic of Belarus". The Constitution guarantees to Belarusian citizens the right to take part in decision making process both directly and through freely elected representatives.
In accordance with the President's Decree the Republican and local organizing committees on preparation and holding of the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly were set up. The delegates to the assembly were being elected at factories, at collective farms, at research institutions and educational establishments, at military units and at places of residence of citizens. 2.3 million people took part in the nomination of the delegates. Thus, the First All-Belarusian People's Assembly was organized by way of free democratic elections.
It can confidently be stated that the recently held forum which was attended by the authorized representatives from all the sections and social groups of the public has fulfilled its principal task to be a great council of the President and the people of Belarus.
This is evidenced by a great interest displayed both in this country and abroad to such a representative forum. For instance, more than 500 telephone calls from the citizens of the Republic were received directly at the Palace of Sports, the venue of the Assembly. It is noteworthy that the callers not only expressed their support for A.G. Lukashenko and his initiative on holding a referendum but they also appealed for the resolution of various problems of the social and public life of the country.
The following figures and facts characterising the composition of the Assembly's participants can be of interest. According to the data from the district, town and regional organising committees on preparation and holding of the All-Belarusian People's Assembly, 4740 participants were elected. Thus, the representation of all the districts and towns, of major work collectives was ensured. Among those who were trusted by the people of Belarus to take the viable for our state decisions were: women - 1164 (24.7 per cent), workers and collective farmers - 637 (13.6 per cent), engineers and technicians - 554 (11.7 per cent), social and cultural sector workers - 720 (15.3 per cent), managers of enterprises and organisations - 1064 (22.6 per cent), students, businessmen, military servicemen, pensioners etc. - 1382 (30 per cent). Among the delegates there were 43 Heroes of the Soviet Union and Heroes of the Socialist Labour , 936 bearers of other high state decorations, 143 honorary title bearers 993 deputies of the local Soviets of all levels became delegates to the Assembly, 120 out of them are the Supreme Soviet deputies.
Moreover, the former leaders of the Republic, a large group of the Supreme Soviet deputies, the Republic of Belarus’ ambassadors, representatives of ethnic communities in Belarus and foreign Belarusian communities, representatives of the Constitutional Court, of the Trade Union Federation, of artistic intelligentsia , of the Republican Council of Veterans and a large group of the mass media workers were invited to the Assembly. 288 persons as total.
The only exception was Chairman of the Republic of Belarus Supreme Soviet S.G.Sharetsky, who, regrettably, ignored the invitation.
The participants to the Assembly and millions-strong TV viewers and radio listeners listened with interest to the Speech by the President of the Republic of Belarus "Only the people is entitled to determine his own destiny". The Speech included the following thematic sub-units: "The authority must be subordinated only to the will of the people ", "The Belarusian economy: its present state and guidelines for its development", " Social protection and spiritual revival of the people", "The foreign policy strategy of Belarus". The constitutional reform is the road to the future".
The president proposed for the discussion the Programme of Social and Economic Development of the Republic of Belarus up to the Year of 2000, whose implementation will require empowering the Head of State with appropriate legal authorities. In view of this, special attention was paid to the problems of the forthcoming referendum. In response to the attempts from the opposition parliamentary circles to "push off" the President beyond the limits of the legal framework A.G.Lukashenko appealed to the representative people's forum to endorse his decision on the holding of the referendum on November 24 this year, which obeys the spirit and the letter of the Fundamental Law - the Constitution.
The Speech of the President was published in major Republican newspapers.
About one hundred delegates to the forum wished to take part in discussions of the President's Speech and of the tasks set forth in it The audience displayed a great interest in the constructive and profound statements made by the Republic of Belarus Prime-Minister M.N.Chigir, by the State Secretary of the Security Council V.V.Sheiman, by Metropolitan of Minsk and Slutsk and Patriarchal Exarch of the Whole Belarus Filaret, by Executive Secretary of the CIS I.M.Korotchenya, by Chairman of the Republican Professors' Assembly V.A.Cherdyntsev, by the Republic of Belarus Supreme Soviet deputies, by local government representatives, by work collectives representatives. 24 delegates in all took part in the discussions of the President's Speech and of other documents.
While supporting the legislative initiatives by A.G.Lukashenko on the holding of the referendum the speakers competenly analysed the state of the country's economy, put forward suggestions as to the ways of its reforming, suggested amendments and additions to some articles and sections of the new wording of the Constitution.
The delegates criticised groundless and sometimes irresponsible attempts of the political opposition of the Republic of Belarus Supreme Soviet aimed at aggravating the political situation in the country in order to satisfy the ambitious claims of certain leaders of the Supreme Soviet Presidium.
In his final statement the President of the Republic of Belarus gave answers to numerous questions and suggestions of the delegates of the popular forum. These questions' among other things, referred to the forthcoming constitutional reform and the problems of internal and foreign policy.
As to the final documents of the First All-Belarusian People's Assembly one should give especial prominence to the Resolution of the Assembly adopted by the absolute majority. The Resolution can be by right regarded as a guideline for those who are not indifferent to the country's present and future, for those who jointly with the President and the Government are willing to work coherently for the benefit of the fatherland.
The materials of the First All-Belarusian People's Assembly are published in the Republican mass media.
Press Service of the President of the Republic of Belarus
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Constitution of the Republic of Belarus (Draft) from President of the Republic of Belarus - A. LUKASHENKO (in RUSSAIN)
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