Comedian and Ukraine President takes office, dissolves parliament

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KIEV, UKRAINE,May 20: Comedian Volodymyr Zelensky stepped into his new role as Ukrainian president with his inauguration on Monday, launching a new era for the country wracked by war and economic difficulties.
A month after scoring a landslide election victory against incumbent Petro Poroshenko, the 41-year-old became Ukraine’s youngest post-Soviet president.
In a ceremony in parliament, he placed his hand on a copy of the constitution and the Bible and pledged to “protect the sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.”
He used his inaugural speech to announce that he is dissolving parliament, after wrangling with lawmakers in the lower house, in order to call early parliamentary elections, which had originally been scheduled for October.
“People must come to power who will serve the public,” Zelensky said. Critics had questioned whether Zelensky would be able to govern without a parliamentary majority. Even setting a date for his inauguration took weeks of negotiations with hostile lawmakers, whom Zelensky exasperatedly called “petty crooks”.
He also vowed that his first task was to bring a ceasefire in the conflict with Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine that has so far caused some 13,000 deaths.
“We didn’t start this war but it is up to us to end it,” he said.
The separatist authorities have indicated that they could be ready to negotiate with Zelensky. (AFP)