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All-Belarusian People’s Assembly is a form of (non)implementation of the right to take part in the conduct of public affairs

Belarus elections

The “Human Rights Defenders for Free Elections” campaign, run by EPDE members Belarusian Helsinki Committee and Viasna Human Rights Center, analyzed the All-Belarusian People’s Assembly (ABPA).

Initially, the ABPA was a quasi-civic meeting organized by the executive vertical, practiced every 5 years (usually) before presidential elections to demonstrate “nationwide” support for A. Lukashenka. It was stated that the ABPA is a form of realization by the citizens of Belarus of their right to directly participate in the conduct of government affairs. Against the background of the political crisis that began in 2020 before the presidential elections, and is still ongoing, at the constitutional referendum in 2022 provisions for the ABPA were included in the Constitution. The ABPA was proclaimed “the highest representative body of the people’s government”, while a bicameral parliament (“National Assembly”) was also preserved. Thus, currently in Belarus there are two central bodies of state power of a representative nature, and in the rhetoric of the authorities, the ABPA is still declared either as a form of direct participation of citizens in resolving public issues, or as a model of representative participation (“people’s government”).

Although the ABPA is postulated as the highest representative body of people’s government, the method of its formation is far from democratic representation: in fact, only 15% of the composition is directly elected by the people (president, deputies of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly and the Minsk City Council of Deputies), and another 29% of the ABPA composition is elected indirectly (by local councils elected by the people). The presence of 3 categories of delegates selected to the ABPA according to different procedures, which are not clearly stated in the law, are not transparent and are held behind closed doors in the absence of observers, hinders recognition of the ABPA’s real representational nature and the right to participate in the conduct of public affairs as being exercised by all citizens of Belarus directly or through representation in the ABPA.

(May 18, 2024)

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