Hard-line Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko suddenly sworn in for new term in unannounced inauguration after six weeks of massive protests against his election victory
- The ceremony was held in Minsk earlier today without prior announcement
- The 66-year-old was sworn in in front of hundreds of government officials
- He claimed a landslide victory in August amid allegations of election fraud
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has been sworn in for a new term in an unannounced inauguration after six weeks of massive protests against his election victory.
According to reports, the ceremony was held in Minsk earlier today in the presence of several hundred top officials.
The 66-year-old put his right hand on a copy of the constitution and swore the oath of office in front of hundreds of top officials, Belta news agency said.
“The day we take up the office of president is the day of our victory, convincing and fateful,” he said during the ceremony.
“We didn’t just elect the country’s president – we defended our values, our peaceful lives, sovereignty and independence.”
Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (pictured) sworn in for a new term in unannounced inauguration after six weeks of massive protests against his election victory
The 66-year-old put his right hand on a copy of the constitution and swore the oath of office in the presence of hundreds of top officials
He added that the the country needed security and consensus “on the brink of a global crisis” in clear reference to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I can’t, I have no right to abandon the Belarusians,” he said.
The inauguration, which would normally be announced in advance as a major state occasion, follows a controversial election on August 9.
Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994 and is now entering his sixth term, claimed a landslide victory with the opposition accusing him of massive electoral fraud.
But Belarus, an ex-Soviet nation of 9.5 million people, faces the prospect of US and European Union sanctions over the disputed elections after it was followed by a crackdown by Lukashenko’s security forces against protests. of the opposition demanding his resignation.
United Nations human rights researcher Anais Marin said last week that more than 10,000 people have been arrested since the election, with more than 500 reports of torture and thousands “ brutally beaten. ”
Belarusian authorities have previously said that the police are humane and professional, but have declined to comment on specific allegations of abuse.
Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994 and is now entering his sixth term (pictured at today’s inauguration), claimed a landslide victory, with the opposition accusing him of widespread electoral fraud
An opposition politician, Pavel Latushko, said the swearing-in was like a secret “thieves meeting.”
‘Where are the jubilant citizens? Where is the diplomatic corps? ‘he posted on social media.
“It is clear that Alexander Lukashenko is exclusively the president of the OMON (riot police) and a handful of lying officials.”
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said on Twitter: ‘Such a farce. Forget elections … His illegitimacy is a fact with all its consequences. ‘
Belarus is crucial to Russia as a buffer state against NATO and as a channel for Russian exports of oil and gas to Moscow (Lukashenko pictured next to Vladimir Putin Putin last week)
Belarus is crucial to Russia as a buffer state against NATO and as a channel for Russia’s oil and gas exports to Moscow.
At a summit last week, Vladimir Putin granted Lukashenko a loan of $ 1.5 billion, and the two countries are holding defensive drills for the Slavic Brotherhood in Belarus.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the swearing-in was “ absolutely the sovereign decision of the Belarusian leaders. ”
When asked if Putin had been invited, he said it appeared that the presence of foreign leaders had not been considered.