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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Belarussian Sides Set for Mediation

MINSK, Belarus -- The Belarussian government and opposition leaders are planning to hold three days of talks in Bucharest, Romania, this week, sources on both sides said Monday.

They said the talks, expected to discuss a dispute over the country's constitution, would start Friday and be mediated by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE.

Former Romanian Foreign Minister Adrian Severin heads an OSCE working group on Belarus. The OSCE has urged the government and opposition to compromise by agreeing on a new constitution and holding a new parliamentary election next year.

The small Belarussian opposition does not recognize the results of a controversial referendum held by President Alexander Lukashenko in 1996.

After the referendum, Lukashenko changed the constitution, dissolved the elected parliament, extended his own term by about two years until 2001 and took on sweeping powers.

The opposition collected votes in an unofficial presidential election from May 6 to16. Government officials denounced it as an attempt to subvert the president.