Belarus President Lukashenko takes oath of office fourth time

Alexander Lukashenko was sworn in as president of Belarus on Friday for his fourth five-year term after controversial elections in December.

Belarusian television broadcasted the inauguration across the nation.

Lukashenko, 56, was elected president on December 19, allegedly winning 79.65% of the votes with a 90.65% turnout. Western countries refused to recognize the elections, saying the ballot was rigged. Police brutally dispersed opposition protests and arrested six presidential candidates and over 600 protesters.

The inauguration ceremony gathered parliamentarians, diplomats and Belarusian intellectual elite in the Palace of the Republic. Belarus's first and only president, whom the EU is threatening to ban entrance into Europe, arrived in a heavily guarded cortege with his younger son and took the oath in Belarusian. The ceremony was followed by a gala concert.

The president assured his people that Belarus was immune from the coup virus that had swept several former Soviet republics - Ukraine, Georgia, and Kyrgyzstan - over the past few years. Such coups were referred to as "color revolutions."

"The color revolution virus affects only weak countries, Belarus does not have any breeding ground for this," Lukashenko said following the inauguration ceremony.

Lukashenko said his country had enough potential to meet any modern challenges. "If somebody has doubts about their choice, excuse my boasting, but I will say that your president is your president and he will never fail you," he said.

Lukashenko said Belarus would go through no political upheavals and promised that his country would pursue closer cooperation with former Soviet republics, including Russia, with China, the European Union and the United States.

The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a resolution on immediate sanctions against the leaders of Belarus over the response to the opposition protests that followed the presidential election. Washington officially supported the resolution later on Thursday.

MINSK, January 21 (RIA Novosti)


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