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People attend an opposition rally to reject the presidential election results in Minsk, Belarus, on Oct. 4, 2020.STRINGER/Reuters

Canada said on Thursday it had imposed sanctions on an additional 31 officials in Belarus, increasing international pressure on President Alexander Lukashenko to find a negotiated solution to mass protests calling for him to cede power.

Canada and the United Kingdom together imposed a first round of sanctions last month. In a statement, Canada said these sanctions were coordinated with the United States and the European Union “in response to gross and systemic human rights violations”.

There were no details as to who was targeted. The sanctions aim to support pro-democracy protests in Minsk against Lukashenko, who opponents say has illegally prolonged his 26-year rule through a fraudulent vote in August.

“Today’s actions support wider international efforts to seek a diplomatic resolution to the crisis in Belarus,” Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne said.

Lukashenko is grappling to contain nearly two months of street protests challenging his rule. More than 13,000 people have been arrested, and major opposition figures jailed or exiled.

Lukashenko denies electoral fraud.

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