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Belarus: Lukashenka Appears To Step Back From Accord With Parliament

Minsk, 22 November 1996 (RFE/RL) - Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka appears to be stepping back from a Moscow-brokered accord that seeks to defuse his power struggle with parliament. Addressing the legislature today, Lukashenka is quoted by the French news agency AFP as saying "Let me carry out the referendum and announce its result as binding." Other foreign correspondents say an angry Lukashenka stormed out of Parliament after a shouting match with legislators.

The Associated Press quotes Lukashenka as saying he was not afraid of parliamentarian's threats to impeach him because "there will be no impeachment." Lukashenka said he was certain that a majority of Belarusian voters would support what he called "the president's constitution."

Reuters reports that Lukashenka also had given the parliament a two-hour deadline to approve the accord.

The Parliament voted today to invite President Lukashenka to discuss an agreement reached during the night. The deal was brokered by Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

Under the accord, Lukashenka pledged to consider Sunday's referendum only as an advisory vote. The referendum aims to increase presidential powers and extend Lukashenka's term of office.

In addition, Lukashenka is to withdraw what lawmakers consider two anti-constitutional decrees and Parliament is to withdraw its motion to impeach him.