Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Monday he doesn’t believe it is the right time for elections, amid a debate among the country’s leaders on the possibility of a presidential vote in 2024.
All elections including the presidential vote set to take place next spring are technically cancelled under martial law that has been in effect since the war began last year.
“We must decide that now is the time of defence, the time of battle, on which the fate of the state and people depends,” Zelensky said in his daily address.
He said it was a time for the country to be united, not divided, and added: “I believe that now is not the (right) time for elections.”
Ukraine’s foreign minister said last week that Zelensky was “weighing” whether it would be possible to hold the elections next year, given Russia’s invasion.
He cautioned that polling would be difficult to hold due to the large number of Ukrainians abroad and soldiers fighting on the front.
Parliamentary elections that would have taken place last month were also cancelled due to the war.
Zelensky, who was elected in 2019, said in September he was “ready” to hold elections if it was necessary and was in favour of allowing international observers to monitor the vote.
The Ukrainian leader’s approval rating skyrocketed after the war began, but the country’s political landscape has remained fractious despite the unifying force of the war.
Former presidential aide Oleksiy Arestovych announced this week that he would run against his former boss, after criticising Zelensky over the slow pace of the country’s counteroffensive.
The sprawling frontline between the two warring sides has barely moved in almost a year, despite Ukraine launching a counteroffensive back in June to claw back Russian-occupied territory.
On Monday Zelensky said that Ukrainian forces had successfully destroyed a major Russian ship in the Kerch shipyard in annexed Crimea.
The Ukrainian president has regularly met Western leaders to try to secure more air defences and stave off international fatigue with the conflict, which has now lasted for more that 600 days.
Zelensky has also been forced to deny that the conflict has reached a deadlock, but admitted Sunday that it had reached a “difficult situation”.
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