Belarus' Lukashenko says he will leave his post after months of protests, state media reports

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said he would resign after the adoption of a new constitution, the state-run BelTA news agency quoted him on Friday.

“I will not adapt the constitution to my needs,” he is quoted as saying. “I won’t be president once the new constitution is in place.”

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Belarus has been rocked by months of anti-government protests since Lukashenko – often referred to as “Europe’s last dictator” – won a presidential election on August 9 that his opponents described as manipulating what he denies.

It remained unclear whether Lukashenko’s comments were sincere or whether he paid lip service to the prospect of stepping aside. In any case, it is the first time he has publicly pondered how the country will be governed when he is no longer president.

His comments on the Constitution came while visiting a Minsk hospital on Friday. He seemed to be indicating that the current Constitution focused too much power in the hands of the President.

“We have to create a new constitution, but that should benefit the country. I don’t want the country ruined later, ”he said, according to the news agency.

Lukashenko has retained power in the former Soviet nation for the past 26 years and countered the protests with violence. Hundreds of people were arrested and there were allegations of torture of those in custody.

This is his sixth term as President.

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

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

More than three months after a historic protest movement broke out across Belarus, people continue to take to the streets.

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Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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