Belarus' Lukashenko vows to beat off opponents

Authoritarian Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, facing the prospect of mass protests after this weekend's election in which he is seeking a third term, on Friday vowed that his opponents would not be able to seize power.

Lukashenko's main opponents have called on supporters to hold demonstrations if they consider the results of Sunday's vote to be fraudulent. Authorities have banned any such gatherings, setting up the possibility of violent confrontations between protesters and police.

Similar protests in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan ex-Soviet republics, like Belarus helped bring opposition leaders to power there over the past two years. Lukashenko, shunned by the West, which has called him Europe's last dictator, has repeatedly alleged that those in opposition to his hardline rule are plotting similar moves.

"I guarantee that an overthrow of the government in our country will not take place. There will not be a forceful seizure of institutions or the blocking of squares and streets," Lukashenko said in a nationally televised address to the country. "Today everything is being done to prevent even the smallest threat to the security of the people."

Lukashenko vowed swift action against any foreigner trying to sow chaos.

"God forbid one of them should try to do something in our country. We will twist his head off immediately like a duckling's," Lukashenko said in comments shown on state TV news.

The statement followed an array of allegations that plans to forcefully unseat Lukashenko have been discovered. Many of the allegations involve Georgians, whose country's "Rose Revolution" of 2003 inspired later protests in Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan, reports AP.


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