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Canada says Lukashenko is not 'legitimate' leader of Belarus - foreign minister

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Francois-Philippe Champagne speaks to media at a cabinet retreat in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada September 14, 2020. REUTERS/Blair Gable

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Alexander Lukashenko is not the legitimate leader of Belarus and he is disregarding basic human rights and democratic principles, Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said in a statement on Thursday.

“Canada considers that Alexander Lukashenko lacks the legitimacy to be the leader of Belarus,” Champagne said, after commenting that his “so-called inauguration” as president behind closed doors follows a “fraudulent” election.

“The inauguration is as illegitimate as the elections it follows... Such gestures only show Lukashenko’s disregard for basic democratic principles and the fundamental human rights of the people of Belarus,” Champagne said.

Reporting by Steve Scherer; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama