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Belarus strongman appoints new PM ahead of key vote

Update: June, 05/2020 - 10:37

 

Roman Golovchenko is appointed as Belarussion Prime Mininister. — AFP/VNA PHOTO

MINSK — Belarus strongman Alexander Lukashenko appointed a new prime minister Thursday, two months ahead of presidential elections expected to extend his 26-year grip on power.

Roman Golovchenko, 46, took charge a day after Lukashenko dismissed the government.

Golovchenko, who previously chaired the state defence industry committee, replaced Sergei Rumas who had been prime minister since August 2018.

Lukashenko said he had replaced Rumas because he wanted to "go into business".

He earlier said he had dismissed the government because voters needed to know "who will work on solving vital issues".

Lukashenko, a 65-year-old former collective farm director, has led the country since 1994. He will contest a sixth term on August 9.

He declined to postpone the vote despite the coronavirus epidemic and has not imposed a lockdown.

Belarus, with a population of nine million people, has 45,116 confirmed cases and 248 deaths.

The Central Electoral Commission last month rejected a bid by popular opposition politician Mikola Statkevich to stand against Lukashenko.

On Monday, Statkevich was sentenced to 15 days in police detention and dozens of activists were held by the authorities after rallies throughout the country. — AFP

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