Fri, 20 Sep 2019

KYIV -- A day after his inauguration, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is holding discussions with leading lawmakers on his plan to dissolve the parliament.

Zelenskiy held a meeting with Verkhovna Rada speaker Andriy Parubiy and leaders of parliamentary factions at the presidential administration building in Kyiv on May 21.

Zelenskiy announced in his inaugural address that he was disbanding the Rada, Ukraine's unicameral parliament, and the consultations are part of the process.

He is expected to sign a decree dissolving parliament after the talks. Under the constitution, new parliamentary elections must be held within two months of the decree.

A comedian and actor with no previous political experience, Zelenskiy defeated incumbent Petro Poroshenko by a wide margin in a presidential runoff vote on April 21.

The 41-year-old ran for president without the support of a political party and has no formal backing in parliament now.

The next parliamentary elections had been set for late October. As he starts a five-year term, early elections are a chance for Zelenskiy to strengthen his position and sideline allies of Poroshenko.

Opponents have questioned whether Zelenskiy has the authority to disband parliament under the constitution because of the timing of his inauguration, but there has been little sign of vocal resistance to his plan since he announced it on May 20.

Hours after Zelenskiy was sworn in, Prime Minister Volodymyr Hroysman said he will resign on May 22 and suggested that he will run in the snap elections.

'I proposed to the president and the parliament that we together form a new agenda and very quickly begin to make decisions that would make Ukraine stronger,' Hroysman said. 'The president has chosen a different path.'

Zelenskiy has taken the helm of a country of 44 million that faces deep-seated corruption, economic challenges, and a deadly conflict with Russia-backed militants who hold parts of the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk.

The war in the region known as the Donbas has killed some 13,000 people since 2014 and Russia continues to control Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula it occupied and seized the same year.

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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