Belarus - Government

In May 1993, a draft constitution was presented to the twelfth session of parliament, which adopted 88 of the new constitution's 153 articles.

Until mid-1994, Belarus was the only former Soviet republic not to have a president. The chairman of the Supreme Soviet was considered the chief of state, but power remained in the hands of the Council of Ministers headed by a prime minister.

On 19 July 1994, elections for president were held in Belarus. Alyaksandr Lukashenko received 80.1% of the vote. He was elected on a platform of clearing out the ruling Communist establishment. Lukashenko, however, is not a democrat but a Communist populist who appears to have no plans for implementing political or economic reform.

In November 1996, Lukashenko won a plebiscite to expand his powers. He signed a new constitution into law giving the president power to dissolve parliament and authorized the formation of a new bicameral National Assembly with a 64-member upper house, the Council of the Republic, and a 110-member lower house, the House of Representatives. All legislators serve four-year terms. The president's term was also extended until 2001. Lukashenko was reelected in 2001, and the next presidential elections are to be held in September 2006.

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