‘I am the only leader’: Exiled Belarusian opposition figure Tikhanovskaya claims presidency after Lukashenko’s secret inauguration

Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, a candidate for the Belarusian Presidency in last month’s disputed election now in forced exile, has called the inauguration of Alexander Lukashenko for a sixth presidential term, a “farce.”

Tikhanovskaya, who believes she really won the contest, was speaking after Lukashenko was inducted to the country’s highest office for a sixth consecutive term. Unlike previous occasions, this year’s was a low-key ceremony, and was not pre-announced.

“Today, secretly from the people, Lukashenko tried to hold his own inauguration. We all understand what’s going on,” Tikhanovskaya said. “This so-called inauguration is, of course a farce. In fact, today Lukashenko retired.”

According to the former candidate, orders given by the long-time President are “illegitimate and unenforceable,” calling herself “the only leader elected by the Belarusian people.” She reiterated her intention to hold new elections, and stated that European Union states are ready to provide the country with assistance.

Fellow opposition figure Olga Kavalkova called the inauguration a “pathetic circus,” accusing Lukashenko of “clinging to power and threatening his own people.”

On the morning of September 23, the President’s 26-year-long reign was officially extended for another five years in Minsk’s Independence Palace. With just a few hundred attendees, the ceremony was not televised, and no foreign ambassadors were invited.

Lukashenko’s re-election took place on August 9. According to the official results, the incumbent received 80% of the vote, with Tikhanovskaya receiving just 10%. After polls closed, thousands of Belarusians took to the streets to protest the results, considered by many to have been fixed. Protesters were met with strong resistance by the country’s security forces. In the past month, protests in the country have become smaller and less frequent, but still attract thousands of demonstrators every weekend.

Also on rt.com Belarus’ Lukashenko secretly inaugurated for sixth term as disputed election result remains unrecognized by most Western states

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