Belarusian Lukashenko says he will leave his post, writes state media

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has said he will step down after a new constitution is passed, the state-owned BelTA news agency quoted him as saying on Friday.

“I am not shaping the constitution to meet my needs,” they quote. “I will not be president as soon as the new constitution enters into force.”

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Belarus has been shaken by months of anti-government protests since Lukashenko, often referred to as “Europe’s last dictator”, won a presidential election on August 9, which his opponents say was rigged.

It was not clear whether Lukashenko’s remarks were honest or just paid a mouthful for the prospect of stepping down. In any case, this is the first time he has publicly reflected on how the country will be run when he is no longer president.

His remarks on the constitution came when he visited a hospital in Minsk on Friday. It seemed to suggest that the current constitution is concentrating too much power in the hands of the president.

“We need to create a new constitution, but that should benefit the country. I don’t want the country to go bankrupt later, ”the news agency said.

Lukashenko has retained his power in the former Soviet nation for the past 26 years and has received protests with violent retaliation. Hundreds of people have been arrested and reference is being made to the torture of detainees.

This is the sixth term of the presidency.

The latest news comes after the European Union imposed sanctions earlier this month on Lukashenko and 14 other officials for their role in security violence during protests.

Pictures of the streets of the Belarusian capital, Minsk, earlier this week showed people protesting against police violence and waving the former white-red-white flag of Belarus, which has become a symbol of protest in the country.

More than three months after the emergence of the historic protest movement in Belarus, people continue to take to the streets.

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Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report.