Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski says he does not believe now is the right time for an election in the country, while debate intensifies over a vote next year while the country is still fighting against a Russian invasion.
All elections, including those for a president to be held next year, have been technically suspended in terms of martial law that has been in place since the conflict began last year.
“We must now decide that this is the time for defense, the time for the struggle on which the fate of the state and people rests,” Zelenski said in his daily speech.
According to him, now is the time for the country to unite, not be divided.
“I don’t believe now is the (right) time for an election.”
The front line between the warring countries has remained almost static over the past year, despite a Ukrainian counterattack with Russian forces remaining in the south and east of Ukraine.
Officials from the US and Europe – Kiev’s key allies – have reportedly suggested that negotiations begin to end the 20-month conflict.
However, Zelenski vehemently denied that Ukraine’s counterattacks were getting the country nowhere, or that Western countries were putting pressure on Kiev to start talks.
The US and other backers, meanwhile, publicly maintain that they are ready to support Kiev with military and financial aid for as long as it takes to defeat Russia.
However, since the deadly Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, the world’s attention has largely fallen on the Middle East – and there is increasing pressure on Zelenski over the ongoing conflict.
The president, who was elected in 2019, said in September that he was ready to hold national elections next year if necessary, and he also favored allowing international observers.
However, a vote could be a logistical challenge due to the large numbers of Ukrainian citizens abroad and soldiers still engaged in combat.
Zelenski’s approval ratings soared after the outbreak of the war, but the country’s political landscape remains a challenge despite the war that united many people.
Oleksiy Arestovych, a former political adviser, announced that he would take on his former boss after criticizing Zelenski for the slow pace of the counter-attacks.