President Volodymyr Zelensky last week ruled out the possibility of Ukraine holding a presidential election this coming spring and urged Ukrainians against political divides, arguing that the country must focus its resources on defeating Russia, the Associated Press reported.
There had been increased discussions on possibly holding presidential elections in March, however, Zelensky, who was elected in March 2019 for a five-year term, had avoided making any definitive statements on the issue until now.
In his nightly video address last Monday, the Ukrainian president argued that given the many challenges facing the country at a time of war, it would be “absolutely irresponsible” to add the topic of elections even “in a lighthearted and playful way.” He argued against the “waves” of political division, saying such divisions “must stop.”
Zelensky argued that with the nation at war, it is the battle against Russia that will determine “the fate of the state and people” and not “manipulations,” which is what Russia “expects from Ukraine.”
Zelensky added that it is not “the right time for elections.”
Martial law has been in place since February 2022 when Russia invaded Ukraine. Under Ukrainian law, elections are banned during martial law. To hold elections in the spring, the country’s lawmakers would have to amend the law to allow it.
President Zelensky, who earlier this month disputed military commander Gen. Valerii Zaluzhnyi’s assessment that the war had become a stalemate, warned of the danger of political divisions and urged for national unity.
He said the Ukrainian people must “pull ourselves together” rather than “unwinding and splitting up into disputes.”
Zelensky argued that victory would only come if all Ukrainians “focus on it,” adding that it would not come from “politicking or searching for some personal interest.” He said political disagreements will do nothing to advance the country’s defense.