The main challenger in Belarus’s disputed elections has called on President Alexander Lukashenko to give up power as police clashed with protesters in the capital Minsk and other cities on Monday nights in a row.
Police were seen pulling protesters out of crowds and beating them with batons on Monday. More than 30 people were arrested, according to Reuters news agency.
“I want changes in my country. I am sick and tired. The Lukashenko dictatorship must be canceled,” a male protester told Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen in Minsk.
“I want [to] Living in a free country, I want my children to live in a free country. I want them to have a future, ”another protester said.
̵6;I consider myself a winner’
Meanwhile, Lukashenko’s main challenger, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, said she would not participate in the protests to avoid any provocations against the protesters.
Tikhanovskaya, who unexpectedly ran for the greatest challenge to the veteran leader in years, said Sunday’s presidential vote was rigged and accused the administration of using force to cling to. take power.
The 37-year-old man said during a press conference after police used stun grenades, tornadoes and rubber bullets to disperse crowds across Belarus.
“The authorities should think about how to peacefully delegate power to us,” she said. “I consider myself the winner of this election.”
The results were officially awarded to Lukashenko, in power for more than a quarter of a century, accounting for 80% of the vote, while Tikhanovskaya, a former English teacher joined the race after her blogger husband was jailed, accounting for only 9.9%.
Foreign observers have not rated an election as free and fair in Belarus since 1995, and the race vote has seen authorities imprison Lukashenko’s opponents and open criminal investigations against those who speak out.
Germany urged the European Union to discuss sanctions on Belarus that were lifted in 2016 to foster better relations.
Belarus: Lukashenko wins the election ruined by the protests
Russian President Vladimir Putin used a congratulatory telegram to urge Lukashenko to accept deeper ties between the two countries, something the Belarus leader had previously dismissed as an attack on the dictatorship. up of your country.
Tikhanovskaya, a mother at home, aroused the opposition during the election campaign, attracting tens of thousands of supporters of the former Soviet country’s biggest protests in years.
Her aides said now the opposition wants to recount at polling stations where the problem is.
‘There will be no revolution’
There was no immediate response to that suggestion from Lukashenko, a former Soviet collective farm manager who had tightly controlled Belarus since 1994.
He faces the biggest challenge in years to stay in power amid grievances over how to handle the economy, the COVID-19 pandemic and human rights violations.
But Lukashenko signaled that he would not resign.
“The response will be appropriate. We will not let the country be divided,” the 65-year-old leader was quoted by Belta news agency.
Lukashenko repeated accusations that dark forces abroad were trying to manipulate the protesters he called “sheep” to topple him, which he said he would never allow. .
“They are trying to settle the chaos,” Lukashenko said. “But I have warned: there will be no revolution.”
Al Jazeera and news agencies