Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, whose re-election in a disputed ballot final month led to weeks of mass protests, has been inaugurated for a sixth time period in an unannounced ceremony.
State media mentioned a number of hundred individuals attended the ceremony on the Palace of Independence in central Minsk.
Streets had been sealed off as Mr Lukashenko’s motorcade raced by the town, witnesses mentioned.
One opposition politician likened the occasion to a secret “thieves’ assembly”.
Presidential inaugurations are usually publicised effectively prematurely as main state events.
As an alternative, state information company Belta reported on Wednesday: “Alexander Lukashenko has taken workplace as President of Belarus. The inauguration ceremony is going down in these minutes within the Palace of Independence.”
Mr Lukashenko, who has dominated the previous Soviet republic for 26 years, mentioned Belarus wanted safety and consensus “getting ready to a world disaster”, an obvious reference to the coronavirus pandemic, Belta reported.
“I can not, I’ve no proper to desert the Belarusians,” he added.
Lukashenko busses within the social gathering devoted
Evaluation by Jonah Fisher, BBC Information
This was not the assured inauguration of a person who actually believes he has 80% of the nation behind him. All the things about it was aimed toward avoiding a public response.
There was no prior warning that the ceremony would happen, and even when proceedings had been beneath method there have been no reside broadcasts on state tv or radio. An viewers of loyal officers was bussed in and there seem to have been no overseas dignitaries. Not even the Russian ambassador was invited.
Belarus’s opposition instantly known as for recent demonstrations. However there are legitimate questions on the place Belarus’s protest motion goes.
Although the anti-Lukashenko demonstrations nonetheless muster massive crowds, significantly on the weekend, they haven’t led to main fissures within the president’s help base. The safety forces and military are nonetheless loyal and occasions (just like the weekend rallies) that had been as soon as unimaginable and unprecedented at the moment are common and nearly routine.
It’s clear that Russia – Belarus’ most essential ally – sees President Lukashenko because the “least worse” possibility for the time being. Whereas that is still the case Belarus’s chief appears decided to disregard the protests and stick with it.
How has the opposition reacted?
His essential political rival, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, who fled to neighbouring Lithuania amid mass arrests, mentioned Mr Lukashenko “after as we speak is neither a authorized nor a respectable head of Belarus”.
Fellow opposition politician Pavel Latushko posted on social media: “The place are the jubilant residents? The place is the diplomatic corps?”
“It’s apparent that Alexander Lukashenko is completely the president of the Omon (riot police) and a handful of mendacity officers.”
He known as for “an indefinite motion of civil disobedience”.
The opposition Nexta Reside channel on the Telegram messaging app known as for road protests from 18:00 native time (15:00 GMT) and urged drivers to dam roads and create site visitors jams.
“Ranging from this very day, he [Lukashenko] formally turns into a bandit and fraudster who isn’t recognised wherever within the civilised world,” the channel mentioned.
In the meantime, Lithuanian International Minister Linas Linkevicius described the inauguration as a “farce” and “illegitimate” on Twitter.
What’s the background?
Ms Tikhanovskaya claims to have received 60-70% in locations the place votes had been correctly counted.
Many opposition figures at the moment are in self-imposed exile in neighbouring international locations amid a wave of arrests.
Regardless of the crackdown, anti-government protests present no indicators of diminishing. On Sunday, a crowd of about 100,000 individuals staged one other rally within the capital, demanding that Mr Lukashenko step down