Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, faced with an unprecedented post-election protest movement, was sworn in on Wednesday for a sixth term, state agency Belta said after a secret ceremony.
‘Alexander Lukashenko took the oath in the Belarusian language, after which he signed the swearing-in act and then the President of the Electoral Commission (…) handed him the certificate of President of the Republic of Belarus’, Belta said.
In the morning, independent Belarusian media and opposition platforms had speculated on such a ceremony on the sly, with the presidential motorcade marching through the streets at full speed, with Minsk’s main thoroughfare closed to the public and the forces. order having been deployed in numbers around the presidency.
‘The outgoing president who claims to have won with 80% of the vote makes his inauguration an operation of the special services, under protection of the riot forces and in secrecy’, quipped on the Telegram messaging one of the representatives of the opposition, Pavel Latouchko, exiled like many of his comrades.
According to the Belta news agency, President Lukashenko told him of his ‘pride’ in his inaugural address to senior hand-picked officials.
“We have not only elected a president, we have defended our values, life in peace, sovereignty and independence” of the country, he said.
Mr. Lukashenko has been confronted since the presidential election of August 9 with an unprecedented challenge, tens of thousands of people going out in particular in the streets every Sunday in Minsk to denounce his re-election considered fraudulent, and this despite the repression of the movement.
In the first days, the protests were put down very violently and thousands of people were arrested.
Opposition figures have either been incarcerated or forced into exile in recent weeks, such as candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a newbie in politics, who galvanized crowds during the election campaign and claims victory in the ballot.
Mr. Lukashenko, who accuses the West of having fomented the protest, promised a vague constitutional reform to respond to this political crisis but he ruled out any dialogue with the detractors of the regime he has been leading since 1994.