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23 Jun, 2023 21:39

Zelensky prepares ground to delay presidential election

Kiev can’t organize a vote amid the ongoing fighting, the president has told the BBC
Zelensky prepares ground to delay presidential election

Ukraine will not be able to organize elections so long as martial law is in effect, President Vladimir Zelensky told British state broadcaster BCC in an interview on Friday. His original five-year term is set to expire in May 2024.

“In accordance with the law, elections need to happen in a time of peace, when there is no fighting,” Zelensky told the BBC when asked if there would be a presidential election next year. 

Ukrainian laws mandate a parliamentary election no later than October 29 this year. For that to actually happen, Kiev would need to end martial law so the 60-day campaign could begin by August 28, according to Rodion Miroshnik, former ambassador of the Lugansk People’s Republic in Moscow. Elections for president would need to happen by March 2024, Miroshnik told TASS.

Zelensky announced martial law on February 24, 2022, and has been extending it ever since. The most recent 90-day extension was announced on May 20 this year, and is due to expire on August 18.

While acknowledging that elections were not allowed under martial law, the president of the  Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) urged Ukraine in May to “start preparing for [a vote] as soon as possible.”

“Although democracy is far more than only elections, I think we all agree that without the elections, democracy cannot properly function,” Martinus Josephus Maria ‘Tiny’ Kox told Ukrainian activist Olga Aivazovska on May 17.

Aleksey Danilov, head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, responded by saying that “there can be no elections” so long as martial law remains in effect.

Under a law enacted in May 2022, Zelensky has banned a dozen political parties for allegedly challenging his official position on the conflict with Russia. The largest parliamentary opposition bloc, Opposition Platform – For Life, was outlawed last June, while the most recent ban, in February, applied to former president Viktor Yanukovich’s Party of Regions.