April 25, 2019 / 5:09 PM / in 25 days

Ukraine's president-elect says being blocked from calling snap poll

FILE PHOTO: Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Ukrainian comedian and candidate in the upcoming presidential election, hosts a comedy show at a concert hall in Brovary, Ukraine March 29, 2019. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File Photo

KIEV (Reuters) - Ukraine’s president-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy, keen to build parliamentary support, said on Thursday the election commission was preventing him from calling a snap parliamentary election by delaying the announcement of his election victory.

Zelenskiy won by a landslide in last Sunday’s presidential election but he has no lawmakers in parliament. Calling a snap election could help his new party win seats while his popularity is high.

But he has only a limited time in which to call a snap election: He can do so only after the election commission has officially declared his election win, but no later than six months before the next scheduled parliamentary election, which is due in late October.

“There is victory, but no authority,” Zelenskiy said in a video posted on social media.

The central commission delayed the announcement of the official results, in order to delay his inauguration beyond May 27, he said. “Why? So that President Zelenskiy does not even have the opportunity to think about the dissolution of the Verkhovna Rada (parliament),” he said.

An election commission spokesman declined immediate comment but on Tuesday the deputy head of the commission said the result would be declared on April 30, ahead of its official deadline.

Zelenskiy is expected to take power within weeks. His ability to work with parliament will be crucial to meeting the expectations of his voters and passing reforms to keep foreign aid flowing.

Zelenskiy’s powers will include appointing the head of the state security service, the head of the military, the general prosecutor, the central bank governor and the foreign and defence ministers.

But parliament must confirm each appointment. Zelenskiy also needs lawmakers to pass legislation that matters to the International Monetary Fund, Ukraine’s most important foreign backer, such as a bill to criminalize illegal enrichment.

Reporting by Natalia Zinets; writing by Matthias Williams, Editing by William Maclean

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