Lukashenka denies referendum plans

Alyaksandr Lukashenka insisted on Tuesday that he had no plans so far to call a referendum on changes to the constitution.

While delivering his presidential address to the Belarusian people and the National Assembly, Mr. Lukashenka said the possibility of changing the constitution was a hot topic that the media could not stop talking about. He said that "certain hot heads" announced that the "president will call a referendum on changes to the constitution any day now." 
"I have never acted dishonestly toward our people and will never do so," said Mr. Lukashenka.

"I know where I came from and how I won the [1994] presidential election. I made a promise and will never go back on it no matter what, or else there will be the same things that happened in Armenia yesterday," he said, referring to a wave of street protests in Yerevan that prompted Armenia`s Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan to step down amid accusations of clinging to power. 

Mr. Lukashenka said that he had not "yet even thought about any referendum." "We have more important things to consider than a referendum," he said. "We need to hold out in this stormy and chaotic, disorderly, dangerous situation in the world." 

Mr. Lukashenka claimed that it was his political opponents who wanted him to call a constitutional plebiscite. "The main thing for them is to start the process, get into a fight and think afterward," he said. "They would not be responsible for the consequences that this referendum would have." 

Mr. Lukashenka said that opposition forces "don`t even want to take power because they don`t know what to do with it." "This is not a simple toy," he said. "You and me understand and know that, me in particular. Therefore this speculation about a referendum, tomorrow`s changes to the constitution must be stopped." 

Mr. Lukashenka recalled that he had first floated the idea of holding a new constitutional referendum at a meeting with judges. According to him, he said back then that "we will get down to addressing the issue with time." "What, is that an incorrect opinion? It is not. Life changes, we change and laws should change as well," he said. 

Mr. Lukashenka acknowledged that he had asked the Constitutional Court and legal experts to draw up proposals for changing the constitution, but said that the matter should be sensationalized. "Experts should be allowed to work calmly, so that when the time comes we could propose the best possible approaches for Belarus` future, discuss them with a wide range of interested agencies and make a joint decision," he said.

Mr. Lukashenka claimed that the Belarusian people would never be forced to consider constitutional changes tailored to a specific person`s interests.

He attacked Mr. Sargsyan for changing the country`s constitution before his departure from the position of president in an effort to keep actual power in his hands in the capacity of prime minister.

Mr. Lukashenka warned the Armenian public that "it is easy to change those in power but a result needs to be produced afterward."

The head of state noted that he could "easily delegate today some of his powers to other branches of government." 
Former presidential candidate Mikalay Statkevich said on Monday that Mr. Lukashenka was expected to use his address the following day to announce a referendum on extending the president`s term of office.