Exiled Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, on Tuesday gave strongman President Alexander Lukashenko a deadline of two weeks to resign, halt violence and release political prisoners, warning he would otherwise face a crippling general strike.
Ms Tikhanovskaya maintains she was the true winner of an August 9 election, issued what she said was a “people’s ultimatum,” demanding Lukashenko quit power by October 25 and halt the “state terror” unleashed by authorities against peaceful protesters.
“If our demands are not met by October 25, the whole country will peacefully take to the streets,” she said in a statement released in Lithuania, where she is currently based in exile after leaving Belarus following the election.
“And on October 26 a nationwide strike will begin at all enterprises, all roads will be blocked, and sales at state stores will collapse,” she said. “You have 13 days.”
Belarus has been rocked by street protests and strikes since longtime ruler Alexander Lukashenko was officially declared the winner by a landslide in a disputed August 9 vote. Since then, opposition supporters have been taking to the streets every week to demand that the 65-year-old step down and allow for a new election to be held.
Over the past weeks riot police detained thousands of demonstrators who have reported torture and abuse in custody, prompting international condemnation and Western sanctions. Several people have died in the crackdown.
The interior ministry authorised police in Belarus to use lethal force if necessary against anti-government protesters. On Monday, police fired stun grenades and tear gas at large crowds in the capital Minsk.