The United States “cannot regard Alexander Lukashenko as the legitimately elected president of Belarus,” the US State Department said on Wednesday after his covert swearing-in for a sixth term.
“The August 9 elections were neither free nor fair. The results announced were rigged and do not confer any legitimacy, ”said a spokesman for American diplomacy in a statement sent to AFP.
Alexander Lukashenko, whose re-election is hotly contested by massive protests, was unexpectedly sworn in on Wednesday in a ceremony that was only made public afterwards. The announcement immediately sparked a new opposition protest in Minsk.
Washington called for “a national dialogue” which would allow Belarusians “to enjoy their right to choose their leaders in free and fair elections under international observation”.
“Releasing those unjustly detained and ending the crackdown on citizens demonstrating peacefully must be a first step towards a sincere national dialogue,” the State Department added.