The main priority of the newly established National Coordinating Council of Pro-democratic Opposition is to secure the release of the political prisoners, Alyaksandr Yarashuk, chairman of the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions, told BelaPAN.
The Council will hold meetings when its member puts forward some proposal that requires discussion and not according to a fixed schedule, Mr. Yarashuk said.
The Council will not be "a centralized governing body," as some member parties and NGOs expressed fears that such a body could make decisions inconsistent with their charters, he said.
A new meeting may be called after the European Parliament's discussion of the situation in Belarus, scheduled for January 12, Mr. Yarashuk said.
On January 9, 14 opposition groups signed a declaration on the formation of the National Coordinating Council of Pro-democratic Opposition.
The declaration was signed by representatives of the Belarusian Popular Front, the United Civic Party, the Spravedlivy Mir (Just World) Belarusian Party of the Left, the Hramada Belarusian Social Democratic Party, the Belarusian Christian Democracy Party, the "Tell the Truth!" campaign, the Movement for Freedom, the Rada (Council) of the Belarusian Intelligentsia, the Narodnaya Hramada Belarusian Social Democratic Party, the Belarusian Social Democratic Hramada, the Belarusian Congress of Democratic Trade Unions, the Party of Freedom and Progress, the Belarusian Party of Working People and the Nadzeya Belarusian Women’s Party.
Politician Alyaksandr Kazulin, who ran for president in 2006 and later spent more than two years in prison on what was viewed as a politically motivated charge, also joined the Council.
The Council was formed for cooperation in fighting the government's campaign of terror and persecution, which is gaining momentum, the declaration says. The Council will push for the release of those arrested for political motives, provide the Belarusian public and the international community with unbiased information about the situation in the country and demand democratization and free and fair elections, the declaration says.
The Council urges the parliaments, governments and public of all democratic counties to display solidarity with the Belarusian people and take diplomatic, political and any other measures stipulated by international law to pressure the Belarusian government into abiding strictly by international agreements concerning human rights and freedoms, the declaration says.