Belarus: USA does not recognize Lukashenko as "legitimately elected" president

The United States "cannot consider Alexander Lukashenko as the legitimately elected president of Belarus," the US State Department said today, AFP reported.

Aleksandr Lukashenko

“The August 9 elections were neither free nor fair. The announced results have been manipulated and do not confer any legitimacy, ”a spokesman for US diplomacy told AFP.

Lukashenko, whose re-election is strongly contested by thousands of people in demonstrations on the streets of the country, was sworn in today at a ceremony in which he swore an oath in secret for a sixth term and which was only released afterwards, which immediately provoked a new demonstration of opposition in the capital Minsk.

Washington called for a "national dialogue" that would allow Belarusians "to enjoy their right to choose their leaders in free and fair elections under international observation".

"Releasing detainees unfairly and ending repression against citizens who demonstrate peacefully must be a first step towards sincere national dialogue," added the State Department.

According to official figures, Lukashenko was re-elected with 80,1% of the vote in the August 09 elections, a result not recognized by the opposition or the West and which triggered the biggest wave of protests in post-Soviet history in Belarus.

After the inauguration, the Belarusian opposition appealed to the protests indefinitely.

"We will never accept fraud and demand new elections," said Pavel Latushko, one of the leaders of the Belarusian opposition, in a message posted on the social network Telegram.

Latushko, a former Minister of Culture and a member of the coordinating council for the peaceful transfer of power in Belarus (an organization created by the opposition), added that this opposition platform calls on everyone to "an indefinite disobedience action".

Belarus has been the scene of several demonstrations since August 09.

In the first few days of protests, the police arrested some 7.000 people and repressed hundreds, prompting international protests and the threat of sanctions.

The United States, the European Union (EU) and several neighboring Belarus countries rejected Lukashenko's electoral victory and condemned police repression, urging Minsk to engage in dialogue with the opposition.

Germany has already reacted to Lukashenko's inauguration and said it does not recognize it for "lack of democratic legitimacy".

"The minimum requirements for democratic elections have not been fulfilled," German Government spokesman Steffen Seibert denounced at a press conference, adding that the contested August 09 presidential elections in Belarus "were neither fair nor free".

The German Government also called, through its spokesman, for the "release of all political prisoners" and urged the Belarusian authorities to waive the use of force against demonstrators.

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