MOSCOW

Alexander Lukashenko was officially sworn in for a seventh term as Belarus’ president on Wednesday despite continued controversy over the results of last month’s elections.

The swearing-in ceremony took place in Independence Palace in the capital Minsk, the presidential press office said in a statement.

After Lukashenko took the oath, holding his hand on the country’s Constitution, Lidia Yermoshina, the chair of Belarus’ Central Election Commission, handed him a presidential certificate.

After the ceremony, Lukashenko said Belarusians not only re-elected their president, they “defended peaceful life and sovereignty in Belarus.”

“This is the day of our wonderful victory,” he said.

Unusually, the ceremony was a modest event with only several hundred guests, not announced in advance, presumably for security reasons.

It took place as opposition demonstrations against the results of the Aug. 9 presidential election continue to rock the country.

Protests broke out after Lukashenko, who has served as president since 1994, was declared the election winner. Opposition candidates, however, accused the administration of rigging the vote.

NATO and European leaders have urged Lukashenko to launch a dialogue with the opposition, and respect the fundamental human rights of Belarus’ citizens.

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