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Belarus president officially takes office

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Belarus president officially takes office

The official news agency BelTA reported Lukashenko put his right hand on the constitution and took the oath of office, before signing it during the inauguration ceremony. Opposition groups say it was rigged, and protests have continued for well over a month.

But he took his oath at the Palace of Independence in Minsk on Wednesday, where he said an unprecedented challenge had been thrown at the statehood, but a revolution did not take place. Law enforcement officers blocked off central areas of Minsk on Wednesday morning and public transportation services were suspended.

'The day of assuming the post of the president is the day of our victory, convincing and fateful, ' he said at the ceremony.

The EU is preparing sanctions against around 40 people deemed responsible for the repression and also looking at punishing Lukashenko himself, diplomatic sources say.

After the ceremony, Lukashenko said Belarusians not only re-elected their president, they "defended peaceful life and sovereignty in Belarus". According to the official results, Lukashenko won 80 percent of the vote. His strongest opponent, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, got 10 percent.

In Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko has been sworn in without prior notice, despite mass protests over the president's claim of victory in an election in August.

One step Canada could take, Mr. Latushko said, would be to declare that after November 5 - the last day of Mr. Lukashenko's current five-year term in office - it will no longer recognize him as president.

These were the details of the news Opposition in Belarus calls for civil disobedience campaign after Lukashenko's inauguration for this day. "And our task now is to build a new Belarus together", she said, adding that European countries are ready to support the protest movement.

Mr Lukashenko's government deployed riot police and security forces to the streets of Minsk early Wednesday evening to deal with potential demonstrations.

Belarusian opposition leader, and Lukashenko's election opposnent Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, traveled to Brussels on Monday in a bid to convince the European Union to follow through on sanctions the bloc threatened last month in response to the crackdown.

The inauguration, which would normally be publicised in advance as a major state occasion, follows a disputed election on August 9.

Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius called the inauguration "a farce".

In his turn, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu called Lukashenko's inauguration illegitimate and contradictory to democratic principles. Amid global outrage over the violent crackdown on the protests, Belarusian authorities switched to prosecuting top activists. After that, Tikhanovskaya was forced to leave for Vilnius.

Member of the Coordination Council set up by the opposition Pavel Latuško announced immediately after taking office that the opposition would not accept the election result and demand new elections.

This is Lukashenko's sixth inauguration. "Those who officially [get] 80% of the votes don't act like that", Klaskousky said.

Last month, the European Union said the election was "neither free or fair". "An unfortunate error of history and a disgrace of the civilized world", Latushko said on the messaging app Telegram.

"A victor of election, a leader that enjoys real support of the society would not need to hold his presidential inauguration in secret".

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