Belarus' president rules out repeat election, warns country's existence at stake
Iran Press TV
Monday, 17 August 2020 9:31 AM
Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko has rejected calls for a new election, warning that foreign powers aim to destabilize the country, as former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya declared "readiness to become a national leader."
Lukashenko said on Monday that there would be no new presidential election despite calls from the opposition and anti-government protesters, the Belta news agency reported.
"You should never expect me to do something under pressure… [A new election] won't happen," he was quoted as saying.
Shortly after official results showed the incumbent president had won a sixth consecutive term in the election last Sunday, violent clashes erupted between police and protesters opposed to the results. Official results showed the incumbent president won over 80 percent of the vote.
'NATO tanks rattling tracks at our door!'
Addressing a massive gathering of pro-government demonstrators in the capital, Minsk, on Sunday, the Belarusian president urged the nation to "defend your country, independence and families."
He said that Belarus would cease to exists as a country if authorities conceded to the demands for a new election. He warned that NATO was "rattling tank tracks at our doors."
"(NATO) tanks and jets are on standby within 15 minutes' reach of our borders. This is not for nothing. NATO forces are rattling tank tracks at our doors. Military power is building up on the western border of our country. Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, and unfortunately our brother Ukraine, its leadership, are telling us to hold a new election," he said.
The Belarusian government has rejected allegations of vote-rigging in the presidential election, saying it has evidence of foreign interference in the internal affairs of Belarus.
UK rejects Belarus' election results
In related news, British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said London did not recognize the results of Belarus' presidential election.
"The UK does not accept the results," Raab said.
He urged Lukashenko to launch an independent investigation into the dispute over the presidential election.
He claimed the election had been "fraudulent."
The Belarusian opposition, which claims vote-rigging, held a counter rally in Minsk on Sunday, following street protests over the past week.
Separately, former presidential candidate Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said on Monday that she was ready to become a national leader.
"I am ready to assume the responsibility and act as a national leader in order for the country to calm down and enter the normal rhythm," she said in a video address posted on YouTube.
Tikhanovskaya, who fled to Lithuania following the presidential election after publicly denouncing the vote results, demanded the release of "all political prisoners" in the country and "to prepare as soon as possible the legal framework and the conditions to organize a new presidential election."
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin told Lukashenko in a phone call on Sunday that Moscow stood by the Belarusian leader's side, offering "comprehensive help" to Minsk if necessary.
The Kremlin said in a statement that Moscow was ready to provide Minsk with help in accordance with a collective military pact between the two countries.
The Kremlin added that foreign pressure was being applied to Belarus.
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