August 17, 2020 - 12:09 AMT
Belarus challenger Tikhanovskaya ready to become national leader

The main challenger in Belarus’s disputed presidential election said on Monday, August 17 that she was ready to take over the country’s leadership after a wave of protests against President Alexander Lukashenko, AFP reports.

“I did not want to be a politician. But fate decreed that I’d find myself on the frontline of a confrontation against arbitrary rule and injustice,” Svetlana Tikhanovskaya said in a new video from exile in Lithuania.

“I am ready to take responsibility and act as a national leader during this period.”

The video was released after tens of thousands took to the streets of Minsk on Sunday for the biggest demonstration yet in the protests against Mr Lukashenko’s claim to have won the August 9 election with 80 per cent of the vote.

Tikhanovskaya, a 37-year-old political novice who ran after other potential candidates including her husband were jailed, accuses Mr Lukahsenko of rigging the election and has called for a new vote.

Since leaving for neighbouring Lithuania last week, under pressure from the government, she has been calling for demonstrations and justice for a brutal police crackdown on protesters.