Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was unexpectedly sworn in for his new term on Wednesday. That reports the state news agency Belta. The swearing-in was not announced in advance.
Almost no opposition left
According to the state news agency, at the inauguration at the Palace of Independence, a few hundred people saw Lukashenko take the oath.
Lukashenko (66) has been in power in the country for over 26 years and has been referred to as ‘the last dictator in Europe’. This will be his sixth term as president. According to local journalists, the internet was again briefly off the air on Wednesday, a measure that the government takes more often in the event of imminent unrest.
The president’s inauguration is normally announced in grand style. That may not have happened this year due to the great unrest that arose after the last elections.
Lukashenko’s electoral win is controversial. He won the presidential elections on August 9 with more than 80 percent of the vote, but hardly anyone assumes that this result is correct.
Since the election results became known, thousands of people have taken to the streets every day to demonstrate. Security forces often intervene violently and thousands of protesters have already been arrested.
After news of Lukashenko’s swearing-in ceremony, the first protesters are gathering in the capital, Minsk. There are already messages that the first arrests have now been made.
Almost the entire Belarusian opposition has since been arrested or fled from the Eastern European country.
A coordination council, led by runaway presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, is trying to bring about a peaceful power transition. Lukashenko, however, does not want to hear about this and is increasingly seeking support from his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Almost all members of this coordination council have since fled or have been arrested.
Tikhanovskaya, the most popular opposition candidate, came second in the last election with about 10 percent of the vote. She is trying to put pressure on the president from neighboring Lithuania.
The United Nations has launched an investigation into possible human rights violations by Lukashenko and riot police against the protesters. More than 500 reports of people who say they have been abused have already been received.