Belarus opposition demands Lukashenko hand over power

By Ignacio Ortega

Moscow, Aug 10 (efe-epa).- Belarus’s opposition has rejected the victory declared by President Alexander Lukashenko in Sunday’s elections and called on him to start negotiations for the peaceful surrender of power within two weeks.

“We do not recognize the results. We have seen the voting protocols,” Svetlana Tikhanovskaya told the press in Minsk on Monday.

She called on Belarusians, demonstrators and police to “stop the violence” after a wave of bloody protests gripped the country the night after the vote.

The opposition candidate, who is running in the place of her jailed husband blogger Sergei Tijanovski, urged “those who believe their vote has been stolen not to remain silent”.

Belarus’s Central Election Commission reported on Monday that Lukashenko, who has been in power since 1994, won 80.23 percent of the votes allowing him to serve a sixth presidential term.

Tikhanovskaya reportedly won 9.9 percent despite drawing huge support from the public during her campaign.

There have been reports of tampering in the presidential election in which around 40 percent of people voted in advance.

The opposition has accused authorities of stealing the victory after conducting a parallel count using a computer program that sees voters send a photograph of themselves along with their ballot.

Anna Krasulina, a spokeswoman for Tikhanovskaya, told Efe the opposition does not recognize the official results.

She called on citizens to support “peaceful change” and called on them to defend their victory in the vote.

“We will only resort to peaceful methods. Demonstrations, strikes, withdrawal of bank savings,” she added.

“These are a series of measures that can turn the situation around.”

All these measures are aimed at convincing Lukashenko, who has been congratulated by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, to relinquish power.

“We call on the authorities to enter into dialogue with us in order to peacefully hand over power to the people,” Krasulina said.

“The Belarusian people won the elections and Lukashenko wants to steal their victory.”

The group has given Lukashenko a two-week deadline for a civilized transfer of power.

“They have lost. We ask them to acknowledge Tikhanovskaya’s victory,” she added.

“There’s no point in having more victims. Let’s hope that the international community will mediate in the negotiations.”

Lukashenko, 65, has said the protests in the wake of the vote were not spontaneous but had been sponsored by countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland or by groups from neighboring Ukraine or Russia.

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