Sun, 16 Jun 2019

Ukraine To Inaugurate Zelenskiy As President

RFE
20 May 2019, 12:47 GMT+10

Ukraine is set to inaugurate Volodymyr Zelenskiy as the country's new president on May 20.

Zelensky, 41, a former comedian best known for playing a president on a popular television show, won the run-off election against incumbent President Petro Poroshenko in an April 21 runoff election with more than 73 percent of votes.

The inauguration, scheduled to start at 10 a.m. local time (0900 Prague time) in parliament, comes just days after Ukraine's main coalition broke up, in a setback for Zelenskiy's plans to hold early general elections.

Parliament speaker Andriy Parubiy announced the European Ukraine coalition's collapse on May 17, after People's Front leader Maksym Burbak said his party was withdrawing from the coalition.

The People's Front is the second largest faction in the Verkhovna Rada.

The move is seen as a maneuver by lawmakers to postpone or even avoid a dissolution of parliament, which Zelenskiy has vowed to disband following his inauguration on May 20, claiming that it does not represent the interests of the people.

Ukrainian politicians are now arguing over whether Zelenskiy has missed a deadline to dissolve the chamber and call snap elections ahead of parliamentary polls scheduled for October 27.

Under the constitution, parliament now has 30 days to form a new governing coalition, while the president has no right to dissolve the Verkhovna Rada and announce snap elections during that period.

The constitution also does not allow the head of state to dissolve parliament six months before the deputies' duties officially expire.

Zelenskiy, who had wanted to be inaugurated on May 19, has accused lawmakers of deliberately postponing the swearing-in ceremony.

During the campaign, he has vowed to eradicate Ukraine's widespread corruption and end the war with Russia-backed separatists in the country's east that has killed some 13,000 people since April 2014.

Zelenskiy will also need to deal with Moscow's takeover of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula in March 2014.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on May 16 that he is not aware of "any plans on possible contacts" between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Zelenskiy after his inauguration.

Putin has not congratulated Zelenskiy on his election victory.

Kateryna Zelenko, Ukraine's Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson, has said that the inauguration will be attended by nearly 60 representatives of other countries. Zelenko said the presidents of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, and Georgia are expected to attend.

The United States will be represented by Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

The European Union will be represented by Vice President of the European Commission Maros Sefcovic.

With reporting by dpa, Reuters, and Kyiv Post

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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