Moscow, Aug 17 (efe-epa).- Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko and opposition campaigners remain embroiled in a stand-off with neither side willing to cede ground.
The long-serving leader has tabled constitutional reforms as a way to end mass protests against his presidency in the wake of contentious elections earlier this month but the opposition has stood its ground, offering instead an amnesty if he voluntarily steps down.
“Unless you kill me, there will be no new elections,” Lukashenko told a crowd of workers at the state-owned MKZT vehicle factory in Minsk on Monday.
Lukashenko has turned to his traditional support base in the state-run factories after the opposition managed to mobilize some 200,000 protesters in the capital on Sunday in what was the largest demonstration in the country’s history.
WORKERS AGAINST LUKASHENKO
The president tried to downplay news that the country’s foremost state companies and factories had heeded calls for a nationwide strike.
“In general, the factories are working,” he told the crowd.
But the propaganda stunt appeared to backfire when the audience of MKZT workers, rather than applaud the president, began to shout: “Resign!”
Lukashenko looked on, visibly taken aback by the turn of events.
In an unprecedented move, public television broadcast the meeting live.