Belarus' Lukashenko says opp. attempting coup with formation of transitional council
Iran Press TV
Wednesday, 19 August 2020 5:55 AM
Belarus' President Alexander Lukashenko has accused the opposition of attempting to stage a coup by forming a council to supposedly oversee a political transition in the country.
The opposition, which contests the re-election of Lukashenko in the August 9 presidential vote, announced the formation of the 70-person "coordination council" on Tuesday.
The council, which includes the representatives of political parties and cultural figures, is meant to be "a single representative body of the Belarusian society," according to the opposition.
Aides to the self-exiled opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya also said she was ready to serve as a "national leader" until a new election was arranged.
Lukashenko, who has already ruled out holding a repeat election, said on Tuesday that he "definitely consider[s] this as an attempt to seize power."
Attending a meeting of Belarusian Security Council, he warned that "adequate measures" would be taken against those who "joined this headquarters," referring to the opposition council.
"But strictly in accordance with the constitution and the law. We have enough of those measures to cool some hot heads," he added.
He said that the council comprised "the formers, the sore, who had a taste of power in the past; as well as deliberate Nazis."
Lukashenko won Belarus' presidential election earlier this month by a landslide, securing a sixth term in office. But his political opponents organized protests and claimed electoral fraud. The allegations were echoed by Western states.
The Belarusian president has expressed concern about foreign meddling in the internal affairs of his country. Last week, he also warned about potential military action by NATO against Belarus.
"(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," he said on Sunday.
In his Tuesday remarks, Lukashenko said Belarusian troops along the country's western border had been put on full combat alert.
Referring to the alleged military buildup near Belarus' borders, he said, "We can see quite clearly that these are absolutely coordinated actions. It's not the peak yet. Events will be developing accordingly, but we understand in what direction."
Lukashenko turned to Russian President Vladimir Putin for help who promised to help protect Belarus' security if necessary.
Meanwhile, the European Council is set to hold an emergency video summit on Wednesday to discuss Belarus.
EU foreign ministers threatened last week to prepare new sanctions against Belarusian officials over what they described as "violence, repression and the falsification of election results."
Tsikhanouskaya pleads with Europe for support
Later on Wednesday, Tsikhanouskaya called on European countries to respect what she called the choice of the Belarusian people.
Speaking in a video address, Tsikhanouskaya urged the European Council not to recognize the results of presidential elections, which she described as fraudulent.
Lukashenko, who has led Belarus since 1994, has rejected allegations of vote rigging.
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