Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has paid an unexpected visit to a detention center in Minsk, meeting incarcerated members of the so-called ‘Coordination council of the opposition’.
The unusual move was reported by local media on Saturday, with a short video from the meeting emerging on social media later in the day.
Members of the opposition ‘council’ were detained over calls to overthrow the government amid the unrest that followed the contested August 9 presidential election. The activists are currently being held at the pre-trial detention center of the Belarus State Security Committee (KGB) in Minsk. Among other things, Lukashenko touched upon the impending constitutional reform in the country, footage from the scene shows.
“Half of you, as far as I know, are lawyers, who perfectly understand that the Constitution cannot be written in the streets,” Lukashenko told the opposition figures.
The whole meeting is said to have lasted for some four hours and other topics discussed have not been disclosed.
The political turmoil began in Belarus back in August after long-term leader Lukashenko secured a new presidential term, scoring more than 80 percent of votes, according to official numbers. The result, however, was contested by the country’s opposition who alleged the election was grossly falsified and called for mass street protests. The drive to oust Lukashenko was also backed by the West, including the US and the EU, who did not accept the election results either.
While the mass protests have not resulted in the removal of Lukashenko, the president agreed that some fundamental reforms are long overdue for the country. He did not rule out holding snap presidential elections, yet did not give any specific time frame, insisting that constitutional reform and regional elections must be carried out first.
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