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Photo: Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty

Longtime Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko has said he will step down after a new constitution comes into force, according to Belarusian state media.

Why it matters: Lukashenko has faced three months of protests following a rigged election in August. He has promised to reform the constitution to reduce the near-absolute powers of the president, but has insisted that his strong hand is needed to see that process through.

“I will not work as president with you under the new constitution.”
— Lukashenko on Friday

Between the lines: Lukashenko has not held onto power for 26 years by accident, and he's unlikely to simply fade away now — at least not willingly.

  • He has slow-walked the constitutional reform process while cracking down on the opposition and ensuring the continued support of the security services.
  • Even in announcing that he plans to eventually leave his post, he seemed to leave open the possibility of taking a role other than president.

The other side: Franak Viačorka, a top adviser to opposition leader and self-declared president of "democratic Belarus" Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, tweeted that the opposition movement would "continue insisting on elections before constitution reform."

The big picture: An almost Soviet-style nationalist, Lukashenko played the West and Russia off against one another for years, taking what he could from both relationships.

  • But the U.S. and EU turned sharply against him as August's fraudulent election was followed by allegations of torture against protesters.

What to watch: Russia offered Lukashenko public shows of support amid the initial post-election revolt, but analysts have long predicted that the Kremlin would prefer a transition to a more pliable and less politically toxic president.

  • Visiting Minsk on Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov publicly encouraged Lukashenko to move ahead with the long-promised constitutional reforms.
  • "We of course have an interest in the situation being calm, stable and we think that beginning the constitutional reform initiated by the country's leadership would contribute to this," Lavrov said.

Go deeper

34 mins ago - World

Tunisian president ousts prime minister, suspends parliament amid unrest

Tunisians stage a protest in response to the problems in the health sector in the country, demanding the resignation of the government and the dissolution of the parliament in Tunis on July 25. Photo: Yassine Gaidi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Tunisian President Kais Saied announced Sunday that he had dismissed the country's prime minister and frozen the parliament amidst mass protests in the country, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: The move, which comes on the 64th anniversary of Tunisia's independence, escalates Saied's longstanding feud with Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi and poses a challenge to the 2014 constitution that "split powers between president, prime minister and parliament," per Reuters.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Pelosi appoints GOP Rep. Kinzinger to Jan. 6 committee

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced Sunday that she has appointed Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) to serve on the House select committee investigating the Jan 6. Capitol riot.

Why it matters: Pelosi's announcement comes after she rejected two of the five Republican appointments offered by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.).

USCP chief: Officers testifying before Jan. 6 committee "need to be heard"

Thomas Manger, the new chief of the U.S. Capitol Police, Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

New Capitol Police chief Tom Manger said officers testifying before the Jan. 6 select committee this week "need to be heard."

Driving the news: The select committee's first hearing is set to take place on Tuesday and will feature testimony from law enforcement officers who were subject to some of the worst of violence during the insurrection.