Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko took the oath of office at a secret ceremony on Wednesday in a move his opponents attributed to his desire to avoid crowds of demonstrators who have held historic protests against his disputed re-election.
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Lukashenko has faced massive demonstrations against his rule since claiming victory with more than 80 percent in a presidential election on August 9, with tens of thousands marching at the latest protest in the capital Minsk on Sunday.
The date of his inauguration for a sixth term had not been announced, but on Wednesday morning, the Belta state news agency broke the news that "Alexander Lukashenko has taken office as President of Belarus."
Belta said the ceremony was taking place "in these minutes" in the Palace of Independence where the president has his offices and which has been a focus of demonstrations.
The announcement came after independent media reported that Lukashenko�..