Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, confronted with an unprecedented post-election protest movement, was sworn in on Wednesday on the sly for a sixth term, before proclaiming that the “revolution” wanted by his detractors had failed.
European states have denounced Mr Lukashenko's stubbornness, Berlin declaring
not to recognize it , for lack of
democratic legitimacy .
Exceptionally, the investiture ceremony was not announced by the Belta state news agency and then the presidency until it was completed.
In the morning, the opposition had speculated on a surprise investiture: the presidential procession marched in the street at full speed, the main artery of Minsk was closed to the public and the police forces deployed in numbers around the presidency.
This alleged investiture is obviously a farce , denounced Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, main rival of Mr. Lukashenko, in a statement published on the Telegram messaging.
This newbie in politics, now in exile in Lithuania, once again claimed her victory in the presidential election in August.
A revealing secret
The German government, through the voice of its spokesperson, has decided that
the secret surrounding the investiture ceremony was
developer weaknesses of the regime, and that for lack of
democratic legitimacy , Berlin did not recognize the re-election of Mr Lukashenko.
Lithuanian foreign minister Linas Linkevicius mocked
fraudulent elections, fraudulent nomination .
For opponents and independent media, this ceremony, which was to take place legally before October 9, was organized on the sly for fear of another major demonstration.
According to Ukraine, the ambassadors were not invited, as is usually the case. According to the Belarusian Presidency, 700 senior people were in attendance.
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In his speech, Lukashenko said his country had resisted a
color revolution , nickname given in the former USSR to popular movements that have driven authoritarian regimes from power since the early 2000s in Ukraine, Georgia or Kyrgyzstan. For Russia and Mr. Lukashenko, these were revolts fomented by the West.
Our State was facing an unprecedented challenge (…), but we are among the only ones, if not the only ones, in which the "color revolution" has not worked. It is the choice of Belarusians , he assured.
In footage released by state media, he then appeared in military uniform during a speech to soldiers at attention.
You saved peace on this piece of land, you defended the sovereignty and independence of our country Mr Lukashenko told them.
According to him, the West wanted to overthrow him to use Belarus as a springboard for a war against Russia.
That he takes an oath 10 times, for me he is already nobody , reacted to AFP Valentina Sviatskaïa, a 64-year-old pensioner living in Minsk, certain that the
angry people will continue to demonstrate.
It's official now, a usurper rules us and we live in dictatorship , comments Igor Koukharski, a 38-year-old entrepreneur.
Mr. Lukashenko has been confronted since the presidential election of August 9 with an unprecedented challenge, tens of thousands of people taking to the streets every Sunday in Minsk, despite police repression, to denounce his re-election deemed fraudulent.
During the first days, the demonstrations were very violently repressed and thousands of people arrested.
Opposition figures were either imprisoned or forced into exile.
Many journalists have also been arrested and pressured. On Wednesday, the editor of the independent site Nacha Niva was arrested.
Mr. Lukashenko, who accuses the West of having orchestrated the protest, promised a vague constitutional reform to respond to this political crisis. But he ruled out any dialogue with detractors of the regime he has been piloting since 1994.
Russia assured him of its support, although in the weeks preceding the presidential election he had accused Moscow of seeking to oust him from power in order to vassalize his country.
The EU threatens to sanction Minsk, but has not decided on measures, due to internal differences.