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Lukashenka Announces Vote On New Term

7 September 2004 -- Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka today announced the nation will hold a constitutional referendum on 17 October asking voters to allow him to seek a third term.

Lukashenka, whose current term expires in 2006, has repeatedly said he was considering a referendum aimed at changing the constitution to enable him to run in the next presidential vote.

Running for a third term in a presidential election due in 2006 would require changing the constitution, which limits a president to two consecutive five-year terms.

Lukashenka rose to power in 1994, and two years later oversaw a national referendum that stripped parliament of many powers and extended his term until 2001. He won another term in 2001 in an election that was not recognized as legitimate by European observers.

The constitutional referendum will be held alongside parliamentary elections also scheduled for 17 October.