LUKASHENKO ABRUPTLY SWORN IN, BE­LARUS OP­PO­SI­TION CALLS FOR MORE PROTESTS

Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) - - INTERNATIO­NAL -

Ig­nor­ing calls for an end to his 26-year grip on power, Pres­i­dent Alexan­der Lukashenko of Be­larus was sworn in for a sixth term on Wed­nes­day af­ter an elec­tion that the op­po­si­tion and sev­eral for­eign gov­ern­ments say was rigged.

The cer­e­mony would nor­mally have been pub­li­cised as a ma­jor state oc­ca­sion but was in­stead held with­out warn­ing fol­low­ing Lukashenko’s claim of a land­slide vic­tory in the Aug. 9 elec­tion.

The op­po­si­tion, which has staged more than six weeks of mass

Pres­i­dent Alexan­der Lukashenko.

protests de­mand­ing his res­ig­na­tion, de­nounced the in­au­gu­ra­tion as il­le­git­i­mate and called for more demon­stra­tions on Wed­nes­day evening. The United States and Euro­pean Union are draw­ing up sanc­tions against of­fi­cials in­volved in the elec­tion and a sub­se­quent crack­down by the se­cu­rity forces. The of­fi­cial news agency Belta said Lukashenko placed his right hand on a copy of the con­sti­tu­tion and swore the oath of of­fice at a cer­e­mony at­tended by sev­eral hun­dred peo­ple. The 66-year-old leader said the coun­try needed safety and con­sen­sus “on the brink of a global cri­sis”, an ap­par­ent ref­er­ence to the COVID-19 pan­demic.

“I can­not, I have no right to aban­don the Be­laru­sians,” he said. Protesters car­ry­ing redand-white op­po­si­tion flags be­gan gath­er­ing in small groups in the cap­i­tal, in­clud­ing out­side at least three uni­ver­si­ties, lo­cal me­dia footage showed. Calls cir­cu­lated on so­cial me­dia for mass protests for the evening.

Reuters, 23rd septem­ber, 2020

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