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The Comedian Tops the Ukrainian Presidential Vote

KIEV, Ukraine – With almost 60% of polling stations counted on Monday, Volodymyr Zelenskiy won 30% of the vote on Sunday, while incumbent President Petro Poroshenko was far behind with just over 16%, TRT World reported .
The first results of the Ukrainian presidential election show an actor with no political experience who keeps his strong lead against the outgoing president in the first round, paving the way for a second round in three weeks.
With almost 60% of polling stations counted on Monday, Volodymyr Zelenskiy won 30% of the vote on Sunday, while incumbent President Petro Poroshenko was far behind with just over 16%.
Former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko was behind with 13%. The results were synchronized with a top exit survey.
Strong performance of 41-year-old Zelenskiy reflects public expectation for new leader who has no connection with Ukrainian political elite and who suffers from corruption and can offer a new approach to resolve the five-year conflict with separatists in eastern Ukraine.
“This is just the first step towards a great victory,” said Zelenskiy after reading the survey results.
The top two candidates will qualify for the second round on April 21st. The final results of Sunday’s first round are expected to be announced later on Monday.
Zelenskiy rejected suggestions that he could join forces with Tymoshenko to gain support from his constituents in the second round in exchange for forming a coalition following the fall parliamentary elections.
“We do not reach any agreement with anyone,” he said. “We are young people, we do not want to see all the past in our future, the future of our country.”
Like the character he plays in a television sitcom, a teacher who became president, Zelenskiy made his candidacy fight against corruption. He proposed a lifetime ban on public office for those convicted of corruption. He also called for direct talks with Russia to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
The elections were tainted with allegations of widespread vote buying. Police said they received more than 2,100 complaints of offenses on polling day, in addition to hundreds of previous election fraud complaints, including bribery attempts and the removal of ballot papers from polling stations.
Zelenskiy’s headquarters claimed that there were several votes and other cheating by Poroshenko’s campaign, but the election officials said the vote went without serious violations.
Poroshenko looked dark as the votes came, but visibly relieved that she had not passed Tymoshenko to qualify for the second round.
“I understand critically and soberly the signal that society has today sent to the interim authorities,” he said. “It’s a difficult lesson for me and my team – it’s a reason to work hard to correct the mistakes of the past few years.”
He does not know if he could adjust his campaign enough to face Zelenskiy’s challenges over the next three weeks.
Poroshenko, 53, a confectionery mogul before his election five years ago, has been approved by the government in place amid the economic difficulties of Ukraine and the sudden fall of its standard of living. Poroshenko campaigned to defeat rebels in the east and regain control of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014 to impose sanctions on the United States and the European Union.
A military embezzlement program that allegedly involved senior Poroshenko associates, as well as a factory controlled by the president in pursuit of Poroshenko prior to this election. The right-wing activists followed him throughout the campaign, demanding the imprisonment of the president’s aides accused of the scandal.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)

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