Washington announced late Wednesday that it no longer considers Alexander Lukashenko the legitimate president of Belarus, hours after he was officially sworn in for a seventh term.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) followed by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (L), enters a meeting hall during the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, in Saint Petersburg on December 20, 2019.
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) followed by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko (L), enters a meeting hall during the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council, in Saint Petersburg on December 20, 2019. (AFP)

The US announced that it no longer considers Alexander Lukashenko the legitimate president of Belarus, hours after he was officially sworn in for a seventh term.

"The United States can not consider Alexander Lukashenko the legitimately elected leader of Belarus," said a State Department spokesperson in a statement on Wednesday, according to the Axios news website.

"The path forward should be a national dialogue leading to the Belarusian people enjoying their right to choose their leaders in a free and fair election under independent observation," the statement said.

Lukashenko’s swearing-in ceremony took place at Independence Palace in the capital Minsk, the presidential press office said in a statement.

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

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

Protests broke out after Lukashenko, who has served as president since 1994, was declared the winner of August 9 polls. 

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.

Source: AA