Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Belarusian Popular Front leader calls general meeting of members to nominate presidential candidate

Lyavon Barshchewski, chairman of the Belarusian Popular Front (BPF), has called a general meeting of BPF members for June 20 to nominate the party's candidate for the next presidential election and discuss a course of action.

His appeal to the party was also signed by six members of the BPF Soym (Council): Uladzimir Arlow, Iryna Lawrowskaya, Alyaksey Marachkin, Pyotr Sadowski, Halina Syamdzyanava and Yury Khadyka.

National pro-democratic forces are "facing a serious threat" and the BPF may be made part of a "controllable opposition," the appeal says. The party should not be surrendered to "political opportunists who will use the next presidential campaign to legitimize Alyaksandr Lukashenka's regime," the appeal says. The BPF should nominate its candidate and negotiate only with those who believe that it is necessary to defeat the regime and not reform it, the appeal says.

The more members come to attend the meeting the better, note the party leaders who signed the appeal.
The proposal to hold a general meeting was first put forward by Mr. Barshchewski at a Soym meeting on May 16. It was rejected by a majority of votes.

Uladzimir Labkovich, a member of the Soym, then said that the BPF charter does not provide for a general meeting of party members. "Failure to comply with the charter can lead to a split within the party," he warned.

The party was originally expected to name its presidential nominee at a September convention, choosing from a short list of candidacies proposed at meetings of local chapters.