US President Donald Trump has warned his fellow Republicans their opponents may “steal” November’s election, as his party anointed him as their candidate.
“They’re using Covid to defraud the American people,” Mr Trump told delegates on the first day of the party convention in North Carolina.
Mr Trump repeated his much-disputed claims that mail-in ballots could lead to voter fraud.
Opinion polls suggest he currently trails Democratic challenger Joe Biden.
Addressing delegates in person at a party conference that has been dramatically scaled down by Covid-19, Mr Trump accused Democrats of “using Covid to steal an election”.
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“The only way they can take this election away from us is if this is a rigged election,” he said. “We’re going to win.”
Mr Trump’s repeated claim – that mail-in ballots will lead to mass-scale voter fraud – has been strongly disputed by independent experts.
The political row has led to Mr Trump blocking $25bn (£19bn) requested by Democrats to shore up postal voting. Democrats have accused Mr Trump of sabotaging the US Postal Service to “sabotage” the election.
As a formality, Mr Trump was officially nominated to be the Republican nominee earlier on Monday at the convention in the city of Charlotte.
The president is due to give a speech to the party convention on Thursday. It is unusual for a candidate to address the convention before their formal acceptance speech.
Supporters at the convention cheered Mr Trump’s remarks, and as they began to chant “four more years” Mr Trump interjected.
“Now if you really want to drive them crazy, you say 12 more years,” he said. The 22nd Amendment to the US Constitution, ratified in 1951, says US presidents are only permitted to serve two terms, for a total of eight years in office.
Mr Trump also warned of a “rigged” election in 2016, as he trailed Hillary Clinton in the polls.
Speaking later on Monday night is Mr Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr, as well as his girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle.
Former UN ambassador Nikki Haley will also speak, as well as South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, the only black Republican senator.
Who else is speaking?
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s plan to address the convention on Tuesday from Israel, where he is on an official trip, has led to sharp criticism about the nation’s top diplomat overtly campaigning in a political race while conducting US government business abroad.
State department officials told US media that no taxpayer funding went towards the video, which was filmed while Mr Pompeo was visiting the top US ally.
Mr Trump has also been accused of misusing government resources by making his convention speech from the White House.