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More than 50 people arrested in seventh weekend of Belarus protests

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Sept. 27 (UPI) — Police in Belarus made mass arrests on Sunday amid ongoing protests calling on President Alexander Lukashenko to step down over disputed election results.

Rights groups said more than 50 people were arrested as tens of thousands of people participated in protests in the capital city of Minsk for the 50th day since August’s elections.

Video showed police spraying irritants directly in some protesters’ faces and police said they used tear gas and stun grenades to disperse “disobedient” protesters in the city of Gomel.

Lukashenko was quietly inaugurated in a secret ceremony on Wednesday after winning 80% of the vote in last month’s elections but the results were immediately rejected by opponents.

The United States and several countries in the European Union have said they do not recognize Lukashenko as the legitimate president of Belarus.

French President Emmanuel Macron said Sunday it was clear Lukashenko must step down amid the dispute over election results.

“What’s happening in Belarus is a crisis of power, an authoritarian power that’s unable to accept the logic of democracy and is clinging on through force,” he said. “Lukashenko clearly must go.”

Lukashenko’s main presidential rival Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who has self-exiled in Lithuania along with other members of the opposition, said she would be “very grateful” if Macron refused to acknowledge Lukashenko as the president of Belarus.

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