The president of Belarus has said he will change the law on presidential succession so that the national security council, where his son plays a prominent role, assumes power in the event of a president’s death while in office.
“Tell me, if there is no president tomorrow, would you guarantee everything is going to be fine? No,” Alexander Lukashenko told reporters on Saturday during a visit to areas affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in April 1986.
“I will sign a decree about how the power in Belarus will be set up. If the president is shot, the next day the security council will get the power,” he said.
Many observers have suggested that Lukashenko, who has ruled with an iron fist since 1994, aims to establish a political dynasty, although he denies this.
The president himself is the head of the national security council, but his eldest son, Viktor Lukashenko, also has a seat and is regarded as its informal leader.
Under current law, the prime minister takes presidential powers if the presidency becomes vacant, but Lukashenko said on Saturday that the premier would be only the nominal leader and all decisions would be made by the 20-person security council.
Lukashenko has faced months of large protests calling for him to step down in the wake of an allegedly rigged election in August that gave him a sixth term in office.
State authorities responded to demonstrations with force, with tens of thousands of people detained and hundreds sentenced to lengthy jail terms. Nearly all major opposition figures are in jail or exile.
Lukashenko has rejected the rigging claims and repeatedly alleged that the protests were fomented by the West.