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Belarus: Opposition Deputies Say Lukashenka Setting Up New Parliament

Minsk, 26 November 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Opposition politicians in Belarus today accused Belarus President Alyaksandr Lukashenka of hand-picking members of a new Parliament they say he is setting up to replace the democratically-elected Supreme Soviet. And Belarus state radio -- controlled by Lukashenka -- announced today that 102 members of the sitting parliament have signed up to become members of Lukashenka's new House of Representatives.

Meeting in a session of the current Parliament in the absence of pro-Lukashenka deputies, opposition politicians rejected as illegal the constitution Lukashenka won public backing for in a refererendum on Sunday.

They accused Lukashenka of not obeying his own rules. They said the referendum result endorsing wider powers for him and an extended term of office should not come into force for 10 days.

The deputies said Lukashenka was already picking members for a new Parliament this morning. Deputy Andrei Klimov, one of Lukashenka's most outspoken opponents, accused the president of carrying out a coup d'etat. Another opposition deputy, Pavel Danieika, said it is possible that Lukashenka will use his new powers to dissolve the Supreme Soviet elected last year and replace it with his own hand-picked two-chamber Parliament.

Meanwhile, it is unclear whether Belarus' Constitutional Court will meet later today to consider a call from opposition deputies to impeach Lukashenka.