EU's 27 states announced that President Aleksander Lukashenko is not the legitimate president of Belarus and plans to boycott him following the disputed August 9 election and mass protests.

Alexander Lukashenko signs a document after taking the oath of office as Belarusian president during a swearing-in ceremony in Minsk, Belarus, September 23, 2020.
Alexander Lukashenko signs a document after taking the oath of office as Belarusian president during a swearing-in ceremony in Minsk, Belarus, September 23, 2020. (Reuters)

President Alexander Lukashenko is not the legitimate president of Belarus, the European Union has said.

The bloc said on Thursday his abrupt swearing-in a day earlier went directly against the will of the people.

EU's statement coincided with UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab's announcement that Britain is preparing sanctions on individuals allegedly involved in human rights violations in Belarus.

Raab said UK was working with the United States and Canada to hold President Alexander Lukashenko and his government to account.

Following the disputed August 9 election, the European Parliament had decided not to recognise the veteran leader from November, when his term as president was due to end.

"The so-called 'inauguration' ... and the new mandate claimed by Aleksander Lukashenko lack any democratic legitimacy," the EU's 27 states said in a statement.

READ MORE: Lukashenko sworn in as Belarus president at 'secret' ceremony

"This 'inauguration' directly contradicts the will of large parts of the Belarusian population, as expressed in numerous, unprecedented and peaceful protests since the elections, and serves to only further deepen the political crisis in Belarus."

The EU, a large financial donor to Belarus, also said it was "reviewing its relations" with the country, meaning the bloc would seek to cut off direct funding to Lukashenko's government, channelling it to aid groups and hospitals instead.

READ MORE: US: Lukashenko not legitimate leader of Belarus

UK prepares sanctions

Raab told the UK's House of Commons in London on Thursday that in light of the European Union's delay in preparing its own sanctions, the UK would join other allies to adopt targeted sanctions against those responsible for human rights abuses.

"We will apply all the tools at our disposal to hold Lukashenko and his regime to account," he said.

Thousands of Belarus citizens have taken part in nearly seven weeks of rallies against the authoritarian leader's reelection, which the opposition says was rigged.

"We are willing to join the EU in adopting targeted sanctions against those responsible for the violence, the repression and the vote-rigging, although the EU process has now been delayed in Brussels,'' Raab said. 

Before the election, the EU had committed to spend 135 million euros on projects in Belarus and has also pledged 53 million euros for the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya discussed with EU foreign ministers on Monday in Brussels how to bypass state administration to support doctors and hospitals.

"I asked Europe not to support financially the regime. All the money Mr Lukashenko can get now will not go to support the Belarusian people but will go for those repressions," she told reporters, referring to the pro-democracy crackdown.

READ MORE: Dozens arrested as mass rallies in Belarus mount pressure on Lukashenko

Source: TRTWorld and agencies