Moscow, Aug 9 (EFE).- Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko hinted at leaving power “very soon” on Monday, a year after the country’s disputed presidential elections that sparked months of mass protests.
At an hours-long press conference in Minsk, Lukashenko said that he has been thinking lately about a successor but is having a hard time imagining himself away from positions of responsibility.
“We should not speculate on when Lukashenko and others will leave. Very soon,” he said.
Lukashenko, who has been the president of the former Soviet republic since 1994, said he was not planning to run for upcoming elections.
“Whoever is elected by the Belarusian people will be the president,” he said. “I have not decided yet on what I will do. Really. Of course, I think about it. This is not an eternal position.I will not have a quiet life until I die. I do not understand how one can live, retire and dedicate oneself to something else. For now, I cannot imagine it.”
The 66-year-old authoritarian leader has been contemplating holding a referendum on constitutional amendments since the anti-government protests broke out last year.
The Belarusian opposition, whose main leaders are either in prison or in exile, are demanding Lukashenko leave power immediately, release all political prisoners and hold accountable those guilty of brutally putting down protests.
They also see the only solution to the crisis is holding fresh elections, in which candidates from the opposition would participate including the exiled leader, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.
“I don’t think that Lukashenko is ready to leave power easily, and nobody said this fight would be easy for us. But we have to make him understand that it is impossible to rule a country where people want change. In the eyes of the Belarusian people, Lukashenko is illegitimate,” Tikhanovskaya told Efe in an interview on Sunday.
Lukashenko is currently serving his sixth term as president after he won last year’s election with some 80.1% of the vote, results deemed fraudulent by the opposition and western countries. EFE