Belarus leader Lukashenko sworn in at secret ceremony

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko attends a meeting in Minsk, Belarus, Monday, Sept. 21, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 23 September 2020

Belarus leader Lukashenko sworn in at secret ceremony

  • Lukashenko has faced massive demonstrations against his rule in Minsk and other cities since claiming victory in disputed elections on August 9
  • Lukashenko’s official website did not make any announcement and the ceremony was not shown live on state television

MINSK: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has been sworn in for a sixth term at a secret ceremony held with no prior announcement, the Belta state news agency reported Wednesday.
Lukashenko has faced massive demonstrations against his rule in Minsk and other cities since claiming victory in disputed elections on August 9, and has made only rare appearances in public view.
“Alexander Lukashenko has taken office as President of Belarus. The inauguration ceremony is taking place in these minutes in the Palace of Independence,” the news agency reported.
Earlier independent news agencies reported that streets were closed as Lukashenko’s motorcade raced through the capital Minsk, prompting speculation that the inauguration was due to take place, while there was no official confirmation.
Lukashenko’s official website did not make any announcement and the ceremony was not shown live on state television, apparently to avoid protesters gathering.
The 66-year-old leader, in power since 1994, viewed one protest rally from his helicopter, describing the demonstrators as “rats,” and later disembarked in a bullet-proof vest, carrying a Kalashnikov.
He has sought backing from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has promised him law enforcement backup if needed, as well as a $1.5 billion loan.
His main opposition rival, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, claimed she won the election but has taken shelter in Lithuania, while Lukashenko has jailed or driven out other key opposition figures.
European Union foreign ministers on Monday failed to agree sanctions over the political crisis, despite a plea for support from Tikhanovskaya.
Cyprus, which has good relations with Russia, has vetoed proposed EU sanctions.


Indonesian president ‘honored’ to have UAE street named after him

Updated 22 October 2020

Indonesian president ‘honored’ to have UAE street named after him

  • Abu Dhabi’s Al-Ma’arid Street renamed President Joko Widodo Street

JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo on Tuesday said it was “an honor” for him and his country that a street in the UAE capital had been named after him.

Al-Ma’arid Street, one of Abu Dhabi’s key roads, was on Monday renamed President Joko Widodo Street during a ceremony that coincided with the first anniversary of the Indonesian leader’s inauguration for a second term in office.

Writing on social media, Widodo said: “It is a recognition and an honor, not only for me, but for Indonesia.” He also expressed hope that the two countries’ relations would be “stronger, mutually strengthening, and beneficial for the people of the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia.”

Indonesia’s ambassador to the UAE, Husin Bagis, told Arab News: “The initiative to rename the street after President Joko Widodo came from His Highness (Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan), who also presided over the street renaming ceremony on the spot.”

The envoy said that the street was near to the future location of the Indonesian Embassy compound, which was currently under construction.

According to UAE news agency WAM, the crown prince has also directed officials to build a mosque named after Widodo, in Abu Dhabi’s Diplomatic Area, in recognition of the Indonesian president’s close friendship with the UAE and his efforts to strengthen the relationship.

Indonesia-UAE relations have grown closer since Widodo’s visit to Abu Dhabi in January, during which he secured investment projects worth $22.9 billion in what has officially been described as the biggest trade deal in the country’s history. The visit was to reciprocate the crown prince’s trip to Indonesia in July 2019.

Recent cooperation agreements between the two countries have included plans for the construction of a mosque on a plot of land in Widodo’s hometown of Solo in Central Java.

The mosque will be a replica of Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque and serve as an Islamic center offering training for clerics. A groundbreaking ceremony is slated to take place in December.

Widodo is the latest Indonesian leader to be celebrated through an honorific street name in a foreign country. In Rabat, Morocco’s capital, Avenue Sukarno was named after Indonesia’s first president, while Mohammed Hatta Street in Haarlem, the Netherlands, recognizes the Southeast Asian country’s first vice president. Sukarno and Hatta are considered the fathers of Indonesia’s independence.

The name of the country’s third president, B. J. Habibie, appears on a bridge in Dili, the capital of East Timor, in honor of his decision to hold a referendum there which allowed East Timor to secede from Indonesia.