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Belarus: Lukashenka Calls Congress to Consider New Draft Constitution

Grodno, Belarus; 16 August 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Discussion of a new draft constitution for the country will be the focus of a congress to be held next month in Minsk, Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka announced today.

Opponents say the move is a further attempt by the president, who has been heavily criticized for his authoritarian rule, to strengthen his powers. Yesterday he proposed a moratorium on elections of all kinds.

Lukashenka, speaking today in the western town of Grodno, said the congress would comprise 6,000 people from across the country.

The new draft constitution would be made available to the public through the media on September 3, he said.

Lukashenka has called for a nationwide referendum to discuss the new constitution to be held on November 7, the anniversary of the 1917 Bolshevik revolution and a public holiday in Belarus.