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Zelensky party headed for absolute majority in Ukraine parliament vote

By AFP
media Zelensky has promised to stamp out corruption and end a separatist war AFP

The party of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky won an absolute majority in parliamentary elections with a record share of the vote, according to partial results and media projections Monday.

Zelensky, whose political experience before he won a presidential election this year was limited to playing the head of state in a TV show, has promised to stamp out corruption and end a separatist war.

His Servant of the People party had around 42 percent of the weekend vote, well ahead of its nearest rival on just over 12 percent, with 50 percent of votes counted.

Media projections showed this puts the party on track to pick up more than half the parliament's 450 seats, the best showing by any party in Ukraine's post-Soviet history.

Four other parties -- including one openly supported by the Kremlin -- passed the five percent threshold to enter the assembly, the results showed.

It was initially thought Zelensky would have to form a coalition.

The president indicated a preference for another new political force, the Golos (Voice) party of rock star Svyatoslav Vakarchuk.

The singer's party, also packed with young professionals like Zelensky's, made it to parliament with six percent of the vote, according to the latest results.

The pro-Moscow Opposition Platform-For Life came second with 12.8 percent.

Former president Petro Poroshenko's European Solidarity party and former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko's party Batkivshyna (Fatherland) also entered parliament with 8.6 and 8 percent of the vote respectively, results showed.

- 'New face' for PM -

Speaking shortly after exit polls were released Sunday, Zelensky said his primary goals were to bring peace and tackle corruption.

"Our main priorities -- and I repeat this for every Ukrainian -- are to end the war, return our prisoners and defeat the corruption that persists in Ukraine," he said at his party's election headquarters.

He also said he was looking for a "new face and a specialist in the economy" to become the next prime minister.

The comedian's victory in April was seen as a rejection of the country's traditional elite for failing to end the separatist conflict, revive the economy or tackle widespread corruption.

Faced with a hostile parliament after his win, Zelensky quickly called a snap election and vowed to bring in a new generation of politicians to lead the country.

The result of Sunday's vote will bring a host of newcomers into parliament and government.

They will face a long list of challenges in a country heavily dependent on foreign aid and scarred by years of war with Russia-backed separatists.

More than 13,000 people have been killed since the conflict with Moscow-backed separatists erupted in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

Sporadic fighting continues along the frontlines, with four Ukrainian soldiers killed by sniper fire and mine blasts since Friday.

 
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