The longtime leader of Belarus is hinting at plans to step down after months of protests against his rule.
Alexander Lukashenko, the country’s president since 1994, said on Friday that his tenure will end once the country adopts a new constitution, state-owned Belta news agency reported.
“I am not going to shape the constitution to suit my needs. I am not going to be the president once the new constitution is in place,” Belta quoted Lukashenko as saying, according to NBC News.
Belarus has been rocked by political unrest amid allegations that its Aug. 9 presidential election was rigged. Lukashenko won the official count with more than 80 percent of the vote.
The 66-year-old dictator made the comments in Minsk on Friday while wearing a hazmat suit and face mask during a hospital visit with COVID-19 patients.
His stated intention to step down defies the wishes of protesters, who have demanded an immediate resignation.
But Lukashenko insisted there would be “trouble” if he stepped down before the completion of the new constitution, according to reports. He did not give a timeline for either move.
More than 19,000 people have been arrested in the more than 100 days since the protests began.
With Post wires