Ukraine's new president Zelensky calls snap elections

Update: May, 21/2019 - 10:15

KIEV — Ukraine's new President Volodymyr Zelensky called snap parliamentary polls in his inaugural speech Monday and said his top priority is ending the war with separatists in the country's east.

The 41-year-old comedian was sworn in as Ukraine's youngest post-Soviet president a month after scoring a landslide victory over Petro Poroshenko with a campaign capitalising on widespread discontent with the political establishment amid poverty and corruption.

Zelensky -- whose only previous political experience was appearing as president in a popular TV show -- announced he would dissolve parliament in order to call early elections, originally scheduled for October.

"People must come to power who will serve the public," Ukraine's sixth president said, after wrangling with hostile lawmakers whom he called "petty crooks".

Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman said he would be resigning on Wednesday.

Groysman said he had offered to work under Zelensky but added that "the president chose a different path."

The legal status of Zelensky's move to dissolve parliament is uncertain but it is still likely to go ahead, political analysts said.

"There are no mechanisms or instruments to stop this decision," said analyst Mykola Davydchuk.

‘Ready for dialogue’

Zelensky said in his speech in Kiev that "our first task is a ceasefire in the Donbass," referring to the eastern separatist-controlled region, prompting a round of applause.

"We didn't start this war but it is up to us to end it," he said.

"We are ready for dialogue," he added, urging the handover of Ukrainian prisoners.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russian President Vladimir Putin has no plans to meet Zelensky and would not be congratulating him on his inauguration.

The Russian president will only "congratulate him on the first successes" in resolving the separatist conflict, he said, calling it a "domestic problem" for Ukraine. — AFP


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