Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has been sworn in for a sixth term following an unexpected inauguration ceremony that was moved up amid mass protests over his reelection last month.
The official news agency BelTA reported that 'several hundred' senior officials had been invited to the September 23 ceremony, though it did not say who or how many actually attended.
BelTA said Lukashenka put his right hand on the constitution and took the oath of office, before signing it. The chairman of the Central Commission of Belarus on Elections then presented him with the certificate of the President of the Republic of Belarus, it added.
Later, a video with an escort cortege passing along Independence Avenue in Minsk appeared on local Telegram channels:
Lukashenka faces the biggest challenge yet to his 26-year rule amid unprecedented nationwide protests against the results of the August 9 presidential election that handed him a sixth five-year term.
Tens of thousands of Belarusians have called on Lukashenka to step down and hold free and fair elections, claiming the vote was rigged in his favor.
The 66-year-old Belarusian leader has responded to the peaceful protests with violent arrests and claims of torture by some of those who have been detained.
Opposition leader Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya had warned that any attempt to hold an inauguration would be 'illegal.'
Based on reporting by BelTA
Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036