Kiev, April 22 (IANS) Comedian Vladimir Zelensky is maintaining his huge lead over incumbent Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko with 80.87 per cent of the votes counted so far in Sunday’s presidential elections, election officials said on Monday.
According to the country’s Central Election Commission’s (CEC) figures, Zelensky has got 73.09 per cent of the votes while Poroshenko has got 24.57 per cent, reports Efe news.
Official data indicates that Zelensky won the run-off stage of the presidential elections in all regions of the country except Lviv in western Ukraine.
The voter turnout was 62.07 per cent, almost eight percentage points less than the first round, which Zelensky had also won.
Following the release of the results, Poroshenko accepted his defeat but said he will not leave politics.
In his concession remarks, he said that “next month I will abandon the post of head of state” after five years leading the Eastern European nation, which was a part of the now-defunct Soviet Union.
“The majority of Ukrainians have decided and I recognize this decision. I will abandon the presidential office, but I’m not going to leave politics,” said Poroshenko.
“As one of Ukraine’s key political leaders, I will continue serving Ukraine and I will continue defending (its) integration into the European Union (EU) and NATO, decentralization, security and reforms against corruption,” said the former chocolate mogul.
The President said that the 41-year-old Zelensky, a comedian, who has no formal political experience, will have to deal with a strong opposition.
He also promised that he and his campaign team, although they will be in the opposition, will be ready to support Zelenski “in all decisions that coincide with the national interests of Ukraine and bring us closer to the EU and to NATO.”
Meanwhile, Zelensky said that his “number one” priority will be to halt the fighting in the eastern part of the country, thus ending the war between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian militias there.
But although he had called Russian President Vladimir Putin an enemy of Ukraine during his campaign, he also has said that he is ready to engage in dialogue with him to achieve peace in Donbas, which consists of the two self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, as well as to secure the release of the 24 Ukrainian sailors taken prisoner by Russia last November in the Black Sea.
Zelensky, a popular star of the television series “The Servant of the People”, where he plays a history professor who becomes the president, has promised to serve only one term in office.