Belarusian leader Lukashenko shrugs off Western vote rejection

AFP Minsk, Belarus Sep 24, 2020, 09.04 PM(IST)

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko delivers his annual address to the Belarusian people and the National Assembly in Minsk, Belarus Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

A number of Western countries have refused to acknowledge Lukashenko as president, following his inauguration on Wednesday.

Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko on Thursday responded defiantly to the European Union and the United States which refused to recognise his inauguration as president citing rigged polls.

"They're shouting that they don't recognise us," Lukashenko said at a meeting with the Chinese Ambassador Cui Qiming.

A number of Western countries have refused to acknowledge Lukashenko as president, following his inauguration on Wednesday.

Also read: Cannot consider Lukashenko legitimately elected leader of Belarus: US

He claimed to have won 80 percent of the vote in August 9 polls despite huge support for his opposition rival, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.

The United States described the elections as "fraudulent."

Lukashenko insisted: "We never asked anyone to recognise or not recognise our elections, or to recognise the legitimacy of the re-elected president or not."

Also read: Thousands protest in Minsk after Belarusian leader Lukashenko hastily sworn-in

On Thursday, the European Union said that Lukashenko's inauguration for a sixth term the day before lacked "any democratic legitimacy" and was reviewing its relations with Minsk.

Earlier on Wednesday, the United States and European countries including Germany said they refused to recognise Lukashenko as the president of the ex-Soviet state because the elections were not free or fair. 

The non-transparent ballot included several days of early voting while Belarus failed to invite international observer group OSCE in time.

The opposition has called for fresh elections to be held according to international standards.

The authoritarian leader, in power since 1994, said of the inauguration that "the main thing is that this should correspond to our country's constitution. And if they see contradictions, let them say so." 

Lukashenko also responded to criticism of his decision to hold his inauguration without prior announcement and without live television coverage, in an apparent move to prevent protesters gathering.

The Belarusian strongman said that his motorcade drove through the city and some 2,000 people were invited to the ceremony including the military, arguing "there was no secret."

Several thousand protesters took to the streets of Minsk on Wednesday evening and the interior ministry said police detained 252 demonstrators in the capital.

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