Belarus leader Lukashenko accuses opposition of attempting to seize power

Moscow, Aug 18 (efe-epa).- Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko on Tuesday said the unified opposition’s creation of a coordination council was an attempt to seize power in the country and warned of counter-measures in response.

The long-serving leader is facing mass opposition protests in the country amid accusations of election fraud in the 9 August presidential ballot in which, according to the electoral commission, he took over 80 percent of the vote.

Lukashenko’s remarks during a meeting with his security council came just after the unified opposition, led by his rival Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, said it would aim to complete the selection process for the council on Tuesday, according to her spokeswoman Olga Kovalkova, as cited by Russian agency Tass.

She added that they had received hundreds of applications for the 70-member council, designed to start a dialogue with Belarusian authorities amid a political crisis in the country.

Lukashenko, who has been president of the former Soviet nation since 1994, said: “They demand to hand over power to them, no less. We see it unequivocally: this is an attempt to seize power with all the ensuing consequences.”

According to the official Belarusian news agency Belta, he added: “I would like to warn the members of this headquarters that we will take adequate measures, in strict compliance with the Constitution and the law. They provide for sufficient measures to calm some hot heads.”

Lukashenko’s grip on power has appeared weaker by the day although he has so far been steadfastly against heeding opposition calls to resign.

Over the weekend, an estimated 200,000 protesters took to the streets of Minsk in what was the largest rally in the country’s modern history and on Monday he was heckled during a visit to one of the country’s state-run factories, which have traditionally been a support base for the strongman leader.

European Council leader Charles Michel said he held a phone conversation with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin a day ahead of a European Union conference on the situation.

“Only peaceful and truly inclusive dialogue can resolve the crisis in Belarus,” the European leader said.

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