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No Opposition in Council of the Republic

No Opposition in Council of the Republic
By Ales Doschinsky
Radio Liberty
The Council of the Republic of the third convocation had its last sitting in Minsk this week. What are the main results it has achieved and who is going to take over?
The first sitting of the new parliament is scheduled for 31 October. The Central Election Committee said that almost 30% members of the present Council of the Republic have been re-elected. The name of the eighth senator from Minsk will be revealed in November. One place became vacant after Orthodox priest Fyodr Popovny withdrew his candidature. Several senators will be appointed by the President soon.
Chairman of the International Affairs Commission, 71-year-old Nikolay Cherginets has been a member of the Council of the Republic for 12 years. He said that if Alexander Lukashenko appoints him again, he will continue working. This is what Nikolay Cherginets said about the top chamber of the Belarusian Parliament: “We’ve never punched each other’s faces like other parliaments. Our job was to deal with a multitude of legal issues. The last convocation was different from the previous ones by a smaller number of new laws it examined.”
Nikolay Cherginets said that the first convocation of the Council of the Republic turned down about 10% of bills submitted by the Chamber of Representatives; the second convocation – 6%; now the number is even smaller – 4%. “When we have some ideas against a certain law it’s like an opposition. The opposition that is taking care of its own country.”
Political expert Yuras Chausov reckons that there has never been any opposition in the Council of the Republic and there never will. There is not any opposition even in the Chamber of Representatives.
“At least there was an opportunity to participate in the election last time as there were a few oppositional candidates in local parliaments. This year, they didn’t even have a chance to get involved. The election system is as such that they don’t need much attention from the pubic. Several parties tried to nominate there members as the so-called senators. Naturally, the authorities did not pay any attention to it. The President might play a joke and appoint somebody with alternative thinking in to the Council of the Republic.”
Both Chambers had their final sitting with the Head of State. Last time it ended with presents being given away. The President said that he would help with finding employment for those who did not get into the Parliament this time.
The  joint session of the lower and upper chambers on Thursday was not an exception. Alexander Lukashenko has also promised to consider applications for “any” jobs from the members of the outgoing House of Representatives who have not been reelected. The Belarusian President lauded the performance of the outgoing legislature and urged the lawmakers who have not been reelected for a new term “not to get disappointed.”
He announced that the Presidential Administration was already weighing employment opportunities for the outgoing lawmakers. “If you are patriotic and competent professionals, the road is open for you. Those who have not gotten into the new legislature should not get disappointed. You have always backed my line and you won’t get ashamed of me,” he said. “There are no former lawmakers. You will have to continue working for the country’s benefit,” Alexander Lukashenko noted.
The Council of the Republic is formed with 64 people: eight from every region and Minsk; another eight members are appointed by the President. The Council of the Republic elections were taking place in September and October in local councils in every region and Minsk and were competition free.

 

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