UPDATE - Canadian Foreign Minister Expresses Regret Over Lukashenko's Inauguration

MOSCOW (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 24th September, 2020) Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne has expressed regret over the inauguration of Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

Lukashenko was sworn in as the president of Belarus on Wednesday during the ceremony that had not been announced in advance. The inauguration resulted in a new spike of opposition rallies in the country.

"[Canada] deplores Lukashenko's unannounced inauguration following a fraudulent election. He lacks the legitimacy as a democratically elected leader. [Canada] calls for a free & fair election for the people of #Belarus. We are coordinating with the int. partners for an appropriate response," Champagne wrote on his Twitter page on Wednesday.

Later, the minister said that he had held a phone conversation with opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya.

"[Canada] is pleased to announce $600K [about $450,000] towards projects to support the civil society & democracy with focus on women & indep. media. We'll continue to call for human rights to be upheld. More to come," Champagne added.

On August 9, Belarus held the presidential election. According to the Belarusian Central Election Commission, incumbent leader Lukashenko secured his sixth term with over 80 percent of the vote. The country's opposition, which consolidated around presidential candidate Tikhanovskaya, has challenged the election results, accusing the authorities of massive falsifications during the voting.

To challenge the results of the vote, the Belarusian opposition has been staging rallies across the country. Opposition figures also accuse the security forces of resorting to excessive violence during the protests.

Lukashenko has repeatedly stressed that from his point of view the protests are directed from Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and the Czech Republic.