Lukashenko sworn in as president for the fourth time

MINSK, BELARUS (BNO NEWS) - Alexander Lukashenko on Friday was sworn in as President of Belarus for the fourth time, the state-run BelTA news agency reported.

The solemn inauguration ceremony of newly elected President Lukashenko took palce in the Big Hall of the Presidential Palace in Minsk. Senior officials and many guests attended the act.

"I solemnly swear to faithfully serve the people of Belarus, to respect and protect human rights and freedoms of citizens, to respect and defend the Constitution of Belarus, conscientiously and faithfully discharge the high duties assigned to me," Lukashenko said during his oath.

Lukashenko, 56, was elected for a fourth term at the helm of Belarus after controversial elections in December. He was declared winner after gaining 79.65 percent of the votes with a 90.65 turnout.

However, the international community rejected the results due to fraud allegations in the former Soviet state. The electoral process was marred with inconsistencies, especially during vote count in which international observers assessed almost half of the vote counts monitored as 'bad' or 'very bad'.

The controversial results prompted demonstrations in the streets of Minsk. Police forces brutally dispersed opposition protests after some participants attempted to storm the parliament.

As a result, more than 630 people were detained, including six former presidential candidates who could face up to 15 years of imprisonment if convicted. The majority of the detainees have served administrative detention of 10 to 15 days.

The six opposition candidates were beaten and taken by KGB agents to undisclosed facilities until it was recently informed that they were held at a KGB detention center.

On Thursday, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on sanctions against the leaders of Belarus over the response to the opposition protests that followed the presidential election.

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