Lukashenko sacks Belarus PM

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has sacked his long-time prime minister as part of a cabinet reshuffle that comes less than two weeks after the disputed presidential election.

Lukashenko dismissed Sergei Sidorsky, who held the post of premier for seven consecutive years, replacing him with Mikhail Myasnikovich, a political ally and the head of the president's administration between 1995 and 2001, AFP reported on Tuesday.

The 60-year-old Myasnikovich, who until recently was the chairman of the presidium of the country's National Academy of Sciences, will take up the top-level position barely two weeks after the Belarusian president won a fourth term.

"Mikhail Vladimirovich Myasnikovich is precisely that sort of flexible person," Lukashenko said without giving any explanation over the dismissal of his long-serving ally Sergei Sidorsky.

Four vice prime ministers have also been appointed by the president as part of his efforts to put a new face on the cabinet. One of Lukashenko's advisers, the former head of the country's second-largest state bank, an ambassador to China, and a deputy governor of the Mogilevsky region are the new deputy prime ministers.

The move comes as Lukashenko faces allegations of vote-rigging following the announcement of the December 19 election results, which triggered mass protests in the Belarusian capital Minsk.

Lukashenko obtained 79.6 percent of the vote while his closest challenger won only 2.4 percent, according to the official results announced last week.

Several opposition candidates and over 600 protesters were arrested in the wake of the post-election protests, during which demonstrators clashed with anti-riot police.



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