07:41 GMT25 February 2020
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    Belarus pres. hints he would support formation of statist party

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    MINSK, May 23 (RIA Novosti) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said Tuesday he would welcome the appearance of a pro-government political party, but said he had no plans to form it himself.

    "If a political party that includes our political elite happens to appear I will not oppose it," Lukashenko said in his annual state of the nation address. But he said he would not get personally involved in the formation of such a party.

    "A party established 'from above' is unlikely to win people's support. But if initiated by the people, it will attract a lot of supporters," Lukashenko said.

    Lukashenko, dubbed "Europe's last dictator" by Washington, was re-elected for a third presidential term on March 19 in a landslide victory with 83% of the vote in a poll the opposition and international observers said was fraudulent.

    Lukashenko said the country's Communist Party had not always produced the desired results.

    "However, the party has focused on strategic issues and its positive role cannot be underestimated," he said.

    Lukashenko also called for the role of trade unions, local government bodies and youth and veterans' organizations to be enhanced.

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