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Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree Friday appointing a new cabinet
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko signed a decree Friday appointing a new cabinet in a bid to reform the structure of the government. Lukashenko told a meeting with representatives of the country's executive bodies that minor changes had been made to Prime Minister Sergey Sidorsky's cabinet, with most of his deputies retaining their posts and two additional deputy prime ministers appointed. He said the number of ministries and government agencies would be reduced to 39 from the current 47 to make the government structure more flexible - from a three-level to a two-level administration - in a bid to meet targets set out in a five-year development plan. "You will have to do much more in the next five years than was done in the past ten years," Lukashenko said. "The [new] government must become the headquarters of the country's economy." Lukashenko highlighted the country's political stability, as the formation of a new Cabinet included no political infighting. "In this regard Belarus compares favorably to other members of the Commonwealth of Independent States [a loose association of former Soviet states]," he said. "[The Belarusian government] is not involved in battles, and this is evidence of country's stability." Lukashenko, dubbed "Europe's last dictator" by Washington, was re-elected for a third presidential term on March 19 taking a landslide victory with 83% of the vote, but opposition leaders and international observers denounced the elections as fraudulent. Although he has support in his homeland for maintaining relative stability in comparison with some other former Soviet republics, his human rights record has been fiercely criticized by international organizations. He recently topped a blacklist drawn up by the European Union and was banned from entering the Union.
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