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Only ‘enemies of Ukraine’ dispute Zelensky’s legitimacy – top MP

The politician’s term as president expired earlier this week, but he has declined to leave office

Doubting that Vladimir Zelensky has the right to remain as president of Ukraine following the expiration of his five-year term this week is treasonous, according to Ruslan Stefanchuk, the speaker of the national parliament.

He angrily denounced those who fail to recognize Zelensky as president during a press-conference on Thursday.

“Anyone who calls into question the legitimacy of the president of Ukraine under martial law is an enemy of Ukraine,” Stefanchuk said, according to video appearing in the media.

Internal enemies may be more dangerous than external ones, he added. The speaker declared: “I really don’t want any political scum… to destabilize the situation over the legitimacy issue.”

He did not call out anyone by name, but mentioned that the faction of former President Pyotr Poroshenko had failed to endorse a formal statement of support for Zelensky’s rule during a parliamentary session earlier in the day.

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Zelensky’s term expired on Tuesday. He has said a new presidential election cannot be held due to the state of martial law imposed more than two years ago at the start of hostilities with Russia. His office has claimed that a national ballot would be prohibitively costly, unsafe for voters, and inherently unfair.

The Ukrainian Constitution sets the length of the presidential term, but it also specifies that power is transferred the moment a new president is sworn in. It explicitly bans holding parliamentary elections under martial law, but does not mention presidential elections.

A national law on emergencies, which has been updated over a dozen times during the conflict, does prohibit presidential elections. The Ukrainian Constitutional Court has not weighed in on the situation.

Zelensky, who famously vowed to be a one-term president when he ran in 2019, told Reuters this week that his five years in office are “not over yet.”

May 24, 2024 at 07:05PM

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