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Belarus Delays Presidential Inauguration


Belarus has delayed Friday's planned inauguration of President Alexander Lukashenko, whose landslide re-election has sparked mass protests

The president's press service did not give a reason for the change announced Tuesday, but said the ceremony will likely be held early next month.

Meanwhile, Mr. Lukashenko met with government ministers and said all political battles are over in the country, and peace and order has been restored.

On Monday, Belarus courts begun issuing jail terms of up to 15 days against opposition activists arrested in protests last week. Poland's former ambassador to Belarus, Mariusz Maskiewicz, is among those jailed for 15 days.

Opposition groups say 1,000 activists have been jailed, and 20 are holding a hunger strike to protest their conditions.

The European Union says it is appalled that police used violence to break up a march Saturday. But police allege the demonstrators became violent.

Opposition leader Alexander Milinkevich says the protests against President Lukashenko's re-election have left what he calls "cracks in the fortress" of the government. He told the Associated Press that there will be "a second storming" in the future.

The United States and European Union have alleged fraud in the March 19 election, but Russia says the voting was free and fair.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.
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