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UK Calls for New Presidential Election in Belarus as Nation Marks 1 Year Since Protests

© AP PhotoBelarusian opposition supporters rally in the center of Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020. A vast demonstration with many thousands of protesters demanding the resignation of Belarus' authoritarian president are rallying in the capital, continuing the public dissent since the disputed presidential election.
Belarusian opposition supporters rally in the center of Minsk, Belarus, Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020.  A vast demonstration with many thousands of protesters demanding the resignation of Belarus' authoritarian president are rallying in the capital, continuing the public dissent since the disputed presidential election. - Sputnik International, 1920, 03.08.2021
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MOSCOW (Sputnik) - The Belarusian authorities should launch a meaningful dialogue with the opposition and hold a new presidential election, as the population has the right to "democratically decide their own future," the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said on Tuesday.
The statement came ahead of the one-year anniversary of opposition protests which engulfed Belarus after President Alexander Lukashenko secured his sixth term in office in the election held on 9 August 2020.
"The election was not transparent, free or fair and did not reflect the will of the Belarusian people. The regime immediately cracked down on those protesting the results & supporting the opposition," the foreign ministry tweeted.
In the year that followed the vote, Minsk went after "thousands" of Belarusians who criticized Lukashenko, according to the British agency.
"Our message is clear: The Lukashenko regime must commit to meaningful dialogue and new elections. They must allow the Belarusian people the freedom to choose their own government and democratically decide their own future," another tweet in the thread maintained.
Following last year's election, the Belarusian opposition challenged the results, claiming Svetlana Tikhanovskaya to be the true winner, and secured Europe's backing. Brussels, in turn, has since sanctioned Belarusian officials deemed responsible for alleged electoral fraud and crackdowns on post-election protests.
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