Actor and comedian Volodymyr Zelenskiy, who played the role of a president in a television series, was elected president of Ukraine in a landslide victory, The Guardian reported. The incumbent, Petro Poroshenko conceded defeat on Sunday evening before results started coming in.
Zelenskiy won around 73.17% of the vote after more than 95% of ballots cast on Sunday was counted, reported The New York Times. Poroshenko was trailing behind with just 24.5% of the vote. Ukraine’s central election commission said the final official results might not be ready until April 30 because of Easter holidays.
“I will never let you down,” Mr Zelenskiy told his supporters, according to BBC. “We did it together. Thanks to all the Ukrainian citizens who voted for me, and to all who didn’t. I promise I won’t mess up,” The Guardian quoted him as saying.
Zelenskiy, who has no experience in politics or military, is best known for starring in a TV series Servant of the People, in which his character, a teacher, is unexpectedly elected to the presidency.
Zelenskiy will take charge of Ukraine at a time when the country faces numerous challenges, including a struggling economy and an ongoing war against Russia-backed separatist forces in the east that has claimed more than 13,000 lives.
Poroshenko, who had been in power since 2014, said the result of the election “leaves us with uncertainty [and] unpredictability”, according to BBC. “I will leave office but I want to firmly stress – I will not quit politics,” he said. Poroshenko was elected after an uprising overthrew the previous pro-Russian government.
European Union President Donald Tusk congratulated Zelenskiy on his victory. “President-elect Volodymyr Zelenskiy can count on EU’s strong support to Ukraine on its reform path and its sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity,” Tusk said on Twitter.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was looking forward to working with Zelenskiy to “continue strengthening the ties between Canada [and] Ukraine, and creating more opportunities for people in both our countries”.