Belarus’s opposition has opted for a new approach of constructive dialogue with President Alexander Lukashenko – and to oust Alexander Milinkevich as sole leader of a united movement.
A two day conference in the capital Minsk voted to replace him with a five person collective leadership.
Milinkevich described the result as sad, saying he did not believe collective leadership could be efficient.
He favours street protest and direct action as the best means of ousting Lukashenko.
But the congress voted for a gradualist approach aimed at winning parliamentary elections in 18 months time.
The opposition brings together a political spectrum
ranging from communists to liberal nationalists, many of whom proved unwilling to stay united behind the academic, who stood against Lukashenko in last year’s Presidential election.
Lukashenko has been ostracised by the international community – unhappy with the jailing of political opponents and allegations of electoral fraud. But he remains popular with many Belarusians, particularly in rural areas, where he is credited with maintaining economic stability in the post-Soviet era.